Washington, D.C. To address one of the vexing problems in the area of electronic resources for libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, under the auspices of its New Measures Initiative, has begun a study to determine how to develop statistics and performance measures that address the delivery of networked information resources and services. Charles R. McClure and Wonsik "Jeff" Shim, Information Use Management and Policy Institute, Florida State University, will direct the e-metrics study, which includes the participation of 23 ARL member libraries. The Library of Congress joined the project as the 24th participant.
"ARL libraries have become increasingly interested in finding ways to gather consistent and comparable data to evaluate our electronic information services. This project will help administrators make better decisions regarding the purchase and deployment of these new resources that are taking a greater and greater share of our budgets," said Rush Miller, University Librarian and Director, University Library System, University of Pittsburgh. Miller and Sherrie Schmidt, Dean of University Libraries, Arizona State University, serve as co-chairs of the project for ARL. McClure remarked, "We are excited about the prospect that ARL's participation brings to this set of issues. It is of interest to the whole library community and this research project will be leveraging existing work being done in the area. We look forward to our collaboration with ARL."
The e-metrics project will be conducted in three phases. Phase one (May-October 2000) will gather in a systematic way information about current ARL libraries' best practices in statistics, measures, processes, and activities that pertain to networked resources and services. The resulting inventory and analysis will serve as a basis for the second phase of the project, to be conducted November 2000-June 2001. During that time, a methodology will be developed and tested to assess the degree to which such data collection is possible and collected data are comparable among member libraries. During the project's third and final phase (July 2001-December 2001), a set of refined measures will be proposed to ARL, complete with data descriptions and guidelines for data collection, analysis, and use. The products from the project-a set of tools, processes, and techniques-will be useful to the library community in general as it looks to provide electronic resources to their communities.
A separate task force from within the project will focus on working with vendor-based database products to arrive at agreed-upon data element definitions and terms, specific data that can be collected, and methods for reporting data to libraries. This ARL Task Force on Statistics from Vendor-Based Database Products will also be building on existing work in the field.
Participating institutions include University of Alberta, Arizona State University, Auburn University, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Manitoba, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Nebraska, New York Public Library, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, University of Southern California, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech University, University of Western Ontario, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Yale University. The institutions are providing both the financial resources for the project as well as staff time for data collection and testing of methodologies.
An article about the project appears in the June issue of ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC
The Information Use Management and Policy Institute of the School of Information Studies at Florida State University conducts innovative research and policy studies to improve the use and management of information for individuals, organizations, and society. Its mission is to develop and implement studies that improve the quality, effectiveness, and productivity of individuals 'and organizations' use and management of information resources and services. The Institute is especially interested in the social and behavioral aspects of the use and management of information and information technology. The Institute stresses the development of specific strategies for implementing study findings, making practical recommendations, and facilitating change. Institute staff are especially pleased to be working with ARL on this project and initiating the study.
The Association of Research Libraries is a not-for-profit membership organization comprising over 120 libraries of North American research institutions. Its mission is to shape and influence forces affecting the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to and effective use of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service. The Association articulates the concerns of research libraries and their institutions, forges coalitions, influences information policy development, and supports innovation and improvements in research library operations. ARL operates as a forum for the exchange of ideas and as an agent for collective action. More information is available at <http://www.arl.org/>.