What is your library story? Change the headlines!


Over the past few years libraries budgets and positions have been cut. Libraries have been portrayed to be on the path toward extinction. However, people often don't realize the resources they are using are provided from libraries, such as searching in Google Scholar. However, we all can share our library stories and library impact to change the headlines.

Check out this video by Gale Cengage Learning, which features some of the statistics from our Library Data and Student Success Project, as the video features public, school, and academia libraries.

Like most folks it has been a busy summer around here so far. Here are a few places are work has been presented or mentioned:

ALA in Las Vegas
Jan was part of a panel on June 30, 2014 during ALA entitled, Sticking with STEM: How the Academic Library Can Help to Retain Successful Students.

  • How can librarians assist with student diversity and retention in the STEM and health science fields at their institution? During this session, three speakers will discuss how library services and instruction can aid student performance overall, as well as highlighting specific retention issues for student groups underrepresented in the STEM fields. Ample time will be provided for audience questions and discussion. This is a joint program between the ACRL Science and Technology Section and the ACRL Health Sciences Interest Group. The STS Poster Session will immediately follow.

What's So Sacred About Privacy?
We are working to get a conversation going about the relationship between privacy and data collection. Our short talk at the CIC CLI conference presentation accomplished this on a few levels including this thoughtful piece in What's So Sacred About Privacy? in Peer to Peer Review in Library Journal By Barbara Fister on May 29, 2014.

Presentation at CUNY Reinventing Libraries: Reinventing Assessment Conference
Kate presented on behalf of the project at the CUNY Reinventing Libraries: Reinventing Assessment Conference in New York City on June 6, 2014.

  • Now What!?! Exploring the Next Steps for Large-scale Library Assessment Projects
    The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Libraries are entering the fourth year of a large-scale data analysis project. Yet challenges and questions remain. A more streamlined authentication system and a new discovery layer have required us to re-assess our data collection techniques and goals. We will discuss some of the successes, as well as questions of patron privacy, resistance to data collection, persistent and growing data gaps, complex policy issues, and more.

  • The presentation was also part of a write up on the conference in Library Journal, CUNY Helps Libraries Take Stock By Meredith Schwartz, Ian Chant, and Matt Enis

Driving With Data

Our project was mentioned in a foot note in Driving With Data: A Roadmap for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Academic Libraries from Ithaka S+R from May 2014.

Transforming Learning and Higher Education

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Shane and I just presented at the University of Michigan for the CIC CLI conference (May 21-22, 2104). We were part of a block on assessment: http://www.cic.net/calendar/conferences/library/2014/cli/program

It was Pecha Kucha (Lightning Round) style so we briefly discussed our ongoing data project and tried to get a conversation started on the balance between patron privacy vs. data collection and analysis.

Shane found this great image for the start of the slide deck:

I think they are going to put the slides up on the site--but we are happy to share.

Slides from Tate Conference 2014


We had a great time presenting on our project at the Tate Conference--mostly academic advisers, student affairs, career advisers, and a variety of other folks focused on students.

In addition to sharing our project, we talked about examples when it could be helpful for advisers, etc. to know whether students had or had not used the U Libraries. For example, what if a student showed high libraries use...maybe they would be good candidates for a UROP proposal, or how to help students to build research skills even if their courses don't require it at the moment but will in the future, or if a student was a academic probation...

Here are slides: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/ldss/LDSS_Tate_2014.pdf

Upcoming presentation

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We will be presenting at the 2014 John Tate Academic Advising Conference on Thursday March 13, 2014 on campus here at the University of Minnesota

Our session details are as follows:

Isn't all on Google!?! Myths and Realities of Student Library Use
Presenters: Kate Peterson, Shane Nackerud, Jan Fransen, Kristen Mastel

Want to help your students engage more academically? The Libraries could help. The University Libraries, with OIR, have collected and analyzed data to gain a picture of library use at the U. Learn more about how library use relates to student success and retention.

More details: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/acadweb/aan/tate_award_conference/

"As space"

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We are beginning work on some future space plans in our largest library on campus. Based on all of the data we collected for our Student Success projects, the new work group wanted to know about what we could pull out to inform the space project. Logical, right?

But disappointing because the answer is not much. When setting up the data collection for our original project we wanted to know who was "using the libraries" in one or more than one of the ways we outlined. But we didn't collect the "what" that was being used (e.g. collected that x student checked out a book but not which book; gathered that x student used a computer in one of the libraries but not which library, etc.). This was a deliberate and thoughtful decision for our initial project to protect user privacy.

Yet we are now unable to go back to the data and try to find out more about the "what." We are now trying a little of this. For our space project we have flipped this--gather data tied to a specific place but not x student. So we can get a snapshot (e.g. College) but not to the depth of our earlier work. Below is a quick chart of use of the library computers in 2012-2013 in the largest library on our campus and the associated colleges.


Using data across universities

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Today's NPR story How college applications change in the era of Big Data, mirrors our study of student library interactions. It is encouraging to hear how colleges and universities across the nation are not only collecting and using data for marketing purposes, but also for retention, and student engagement. Hopefully this will mean more support for libraries in mapping library data to student data with institutional research offices, along with collaborating on research projects, and looking at the campus holistically, rather by each individual unit. What conversations and decisions could happen if all units across campus logged interactions into one system?

First Year student use of U Libraries


Today is the last day of class for Fall semester. Students are busy--slightly frantic even finishing up final papers, research projects, and studying for finals. Our staplers are getting a work out.occupy.jpg

I have been thinking about our first year students finishing up their first semester. Project Information Literacy (PIL) recently released a new exploratory study called, "How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College. Through interviews and a survey of high school students and first year students PIL looked at the challenges new first year students face in their first semester in terms of the complexities of academic research and academic libraries.

We are also in the process of bringing up a new discovery layer for spring. I wonder what all these students will think when the come back for spring to a new website and one BIG search box. We are working on revising our guides and workshop, Intro to Library Research to support students use of our new tool. Our Library Data project has done a good job giving us some tangible ideas on improving student success in our workshops and online tutorials (e.g. authentic work like our Library Research Worksheet) and we are working on maximizing these learning opportunities within the relatively small amount of time we have with students.

I look forward to seeing how the discovery layer helps simplify (?) the search experience and considering how we work towards the higher level issues like critical inquiry, reading and making sense of academic literature, finding related sources, and so on.

Maybe we need to gather some data on those staplers.


Here are a few more selected findings:

  • Many freshmen, who assumed everything they needed to know was just a Google search away, soon discovered they were unprepared to deal with the enormous amount of information they were expected to find and process for college research assignments. This transition from completing high school assignments to doing college-level research is one of the most formidable challenges that incoming freshmen face.

  • To a lesser extent, they struggle with reading and comprehending scholarly materials once they are able to find them and have trouble figuring out faculty expectations for course research assignments.

  • Once freshmen began to conduct research in college for assignments, they soon
    discovered that their college library was far larger and more complex than their high
    school library had been

  • Most freshmen said their research competencies from high school were inadequate for college work. As they wrapped up their first term, freshmen said they realized they
    needed to upgrade their research toolkit.

  • In the short time they had been on campus, a majority of first-term freshmen said they
    had already developed some adaptive strategies for shoring up their high school research skills. Most often, this meant they were becoming accustomed to reading academic journal articles. Some had discovered the usefulness of abstracts to save time and help them make selections.

Usage stats


One of the things I love about this project, besides the actual relationship between library use and student success, is just that finally we are consistently tracking usage numbers from semester to semester. We have four semesters of data so far, and as you might expect, just the numbers alone reveal some interesting trends. For example, in the 13-15 areas we are tracking library use, usage of the library is trending upwards:


Of course, for some library transaction types we count frequencies in a unique way, and these numbers do not represent actual usage numbers, but in the way we count (essentially front-door access increments) the numbers are climbing. That can be seen as a good sign. However, where are we seeing the biggest increases? If you guessed digital resource access numbers, you have guessed correctly.


These numbers represent initial point of access numbers for databases, ebooks, and ejournals, and logins to our library website. Databases, ebooks, and ejournals are definitely being used more from semester to semester, while library web site logins are remaining relatively consistent.

Of course, this probably comes as no surprise, but people at the University of Minnesota are using our digital resources more and more, and the trend line seems to be climbing. It will be interesting to monitor these numbers in coming semesters, and compare them with other traditional library use types.

Do undergrads consider libraries important?



Our colleague Krista Soria has been busy--amazingly busy--analyzing data from the SERU (Student Experience in the Research University) survey to determine factors which correlate to how undergrad's rate the importance of libraries and research.

The data show areas of success and areas of opportunity--including targeting service development and promotion efforts, working more closely with student services including career services, aligning with programs that facilitate faculty sponsored research and more. This article deserves a read....

Here is the citation:
Soria, K.M., Factors Predicting the Importance of Libraries and Research Activities for Undergraduates, The Journal of Academic Librarianship (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2013.08.017 [Article in Press]

Here are few highlights:

  • Female undergraduates are significantly (p < .05) less likely to place importance upon libraries and research as male undergraduates.

  • Hispanic students, Asian students, international students, and students from an unknown or other racial identity place significantly (p < .05) more importance upon libraries and research than their peers.

  • Students from lower income families placed significantly greater (p < .05) value upon libraries and research compared with their peers from higher income families.

  • Transfer students were significantly (p < .05) more likely to perceive libraries and research activities as important than native students

  • Students enrolled in an arts or humanities, business, education, and health or physical fitness majors placed a significantly (p < .05) lower importance on academic libraries and research


  • "The inferential results of this study suggest several factors are positively associated with the importance students place upon academic libraries and research activities at research universities. These areas are among those that hold the greatest potential for library staff to leverage in garnering support for ongoing activities, future development and growth, and increased prioritization within the larger organization."

  • "Conversely, the presence of some student groups who view libraries and research activities as significantly less important than their peers beckons future inquiries into the reasons these students do not value libraries and research with as much importance as their peers."

  • "Finally, it is encouraging that students who have developed library and research skills place greater value upon libraries and research activities, as do students who are more satisfied with libraries and research opportunities."