Stone, Graham, Pattern, David and Ramsden, Bryony (2011) The Library Impact Data Project: hit miss or maybe. In: 9th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services: Proving value in challenging times, 22-25 August 2011, University of York. (Unpublished)

Purpose. The current economic climate, the recent Comprehensive Public Spending Review and the Lord Browne’s Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance are all putting pressure on UK Universities to maximise use of their resources and ensure value for money. In parallel, there is a continuing focus on the student experience and a desire that all students should achieve their full potential whilst studying at University.

In 2009/10, data at the University of Huddersfield was analysed for over 700 courses over four years - 2005/6 – 2008/9. This investigation suggested a strong correlation between library usage and degree results, and also significant under usage of expensive library resources at both School and course level. Three indicators of library usage were used:

Access to e-resources

Book loans

Access to the library

It was then matched against the student record system (SITS:Vision) and anonymised. The correlation between library usage and final degree was particularly strong in relation to access to e-resources and book loans, and exists at School and course level.

It was highlighted that the correlation between library usage and grade had not yet been significance tested and that it was not known whether Huddersfield was an anomaly or the norm. To this extent other academic institutions were invited to benchmark against the findings. As a result a number of universities from across the HE sector expressed an interest in becoming partners in this project.

In February 2011 the University of Huddersfield along with 7 partners; University of Bradford; De Montfort University; University of Exeter; University of Lincoln; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Salford and Teesside University were awarded JISC funding through the Activity Data programme ( to prove the hypothesis that:

“There is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment”

The Library Impact Data Project ( aims to analyse users’ actions with regards to library usage and then linking those to final degree award. By identifying a positive correlation in this data those subject areas or courses which exhibit high usage of library resources can be used as models of good practice.

Design, methodology or approach. The overall approach of the project is to extract anonymised activity data from partners’ systems and analyse the findings.

The required activity data will span at least one entire academic year (e.g. 2009/10), or multiple years if historic data is available. For each student who graduated in that year, the following data will be required:

Final grade achieved

Number of books borrowed

Number of times e-resources were accessed , e.g. the number of times the student accessed e-resources through authentication such as Athens, Shibboleth, EZProzy or MetaLib (with the caveat that it is a crude but common measure of actual e-resource usage)

Number of times each student entered the library, e.g. via a turnstile system that requires identity card access

School/Faculty. At Huddersfield, differences in library usage behaviour have been noted between departments and it would be interesting to know if this was replicated across other institutions

With multiple years of data it would be possible to analyse library usage by students in each year of their course. This data will then be collated, normalised, and then analysed.

In addition all partners have been asked to hold a number of focus groups in order to secure qualitative data from students on library usage. This will complement the quantitative data and provide a more holistic picture of how students engage with library resources. Finally, analysis of National Student Survey data will be conducted at course level, with a view to finding a correlation between satisfaction levels, library activity data and student attainment.

Findings. This paper will report on the findings of the project which will run from February to July 2011. It will consider whether the hypothesis was proven for the three indicators of library usage.

Research or practical limitations or implications. The main aim of the project is to prove the hypothesis that there is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment. The project acknowledges however, that the relationship between the two variables is not a causal relationship and there will be other factors which influence student attainment.

Conclusions.The project will be a success if the following measurable targets are achieved:

Sufficient data is successfully captured from all partners

Statistical significance is proved for all data

The hypothesis that ‘there is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment’ is either wholly or partly proved for each data type and partner

Originality and value of the proposal. The Library Impact Data Project builds on research from the 1960s that suggests that certain disciplines have less need for books; however, the project extends this research into the need for electronic resources for the first time.

Stone_Northumbria.ppt - Submitted Version

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