The assessment toolbox

Since starting in this world of assessment I’ve had this idea of my “assessment toolbox.” Re: When I sit down with someone to talk about an assessment project, what tools do I have that can help them?

This is where I’m struggling. My toolbox has the typical stuff – surveys, focus groups, interviews. It also has stuff for classroom learning – the informal questioning ideas during class, producing a reflection paper, etc.. I also have the ability to pull down student data and run simple models (and I have the software, and ability to learn, how to do more complex modeling). So, maybe my toolbox is big enough, but it doesn’t feel big enough.

Right now I’m procrastinating. I’ve got a meeting in 40 minutes about creating an assessment for a pilot program here at OSU Valley Library. I’m lucky to be in an environment where innovation is not only supported, but encouraged. So, of course I want to be innovative in my assessment practices, I want to bring something to my colleagues that they hadn’t thought of, but I’m struggling.

I’m wondering if others are too – are others struggling to build their toolbox. Is it just me, that I get bored (I do get bored easily)? How do others assess one-shots? How do others assess workshops? Hmm.. Any thoughts would be welcome.

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Oh my, what to read?

I am a prolific reader. I read all the time. I suspect I’m like a lot of folks – I’ve gone from carrying around a book with me to carrying my smart phone. These days my go to for a reading fix during the day is twitter, email, and websites.

So, if it wasn’t obvious by my previous post, I’m new to the library world. My PhD is in Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences from Utah State University. I was lucky that my time there was spent hanging out with K-12 teachers and digital libraries (and open educational resources), and that one of my committee members is now a librarian at another university. I say lucky because it means during my PhD I was exposed to libraries, at least a little bit. Then when I got to Purdue, that was when I discovered how incredibly cool it would be to have a career here in academic libraries (I will always be grateful to the Purdue librarians for pushing me in this direction!).

So, all that said – once I got here to Oregon State University I did what I do – I started to read. That’s the point of the post – reading. What do I read that’s about libraries, particularly assessment? Good question.

Every day I read The Chronicle of Higher Education & Inside Higher Ed. I read these because academic libraries are situated within this larger environment of higher education. What impacts higher ed impact us. It also keeps me aware so when I meet with my assessment colleagues across campus I know what they are thinking about. Plus, Inside Higher Ed has Library Babel Fish.

On the library side of things I have started to read College & Research Libraries News, Association for Research Libraries News, and Library Journal. While not specifically about assessment, sometimes they do cover assessment and they keep me up to date about what the library world is thinking about. I try to get to these once a week.

The very first thing I read when I started my job back in December was Megan Oakleaf’s The Value in Academic Libraries. It’s a long read, but it was super helpful to me to understand how assessment is situated in academic libraries. I’ve also been meaning to spend time in the archives of the Evidenced Based Library and Information Practice journal. Yep yep, I need to spend time just hanging out with the journal because it’s another tool to help me understand this new environment I’m in, as well as to keep me up to date on assessment trends and give me ideas for things maybe we should be looking at here at Oregon State.

The last area I’ll mention is I’ve started to understand critical pedagogy. In a previous life I was a peace activist so it makes sense that I would be interested in looking at what I do through a critical lens. We have a copy of Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods in our library faculty / staff library here at Oregon State, and there is a chapter on assessment. Beyond that though, outside of the library world, I recently the article Assessment for Whom: Repositioning Higher Education Assessment as an Ethical and Value-Focused Social Practice. It’s a critique of what assessment has become within higher ed and reminds me that assessment is actually a great tool for helping us to become better at what we do. After all – as much as the tools and methods of assessment are wickedly fun to play with, isn’t the real reason to do it because we want to become better at what we do? I think so, that’s why I’m doing it.

So, what do you read, and what should I be reading that I’m not?




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Picking up the torch

Hmm.. my first post here heading up OLA’s Library Assessment Round Table – I don’t want to screw this up.

So, I’m Brooke Robertshaw and I’m the new Assessment Librarian at Oregon State University. I’ve been in my position since 1 December and came here from the Office of Institutional Assessment at Purdue University. After being gone for 10 years, I’m grateful to be back in Oregon, a state that I fell in love with back in 1998 when I first came here from Southwestern Virginia.

What’s in store for the LART? I’m not sure yet. I’m new to a lot of this, but with your patience, and some help from folks, I’ll figure it out and hopefully I can help in facilitating discussions around assessment here in Oregon’s library community.

To start off – I will be posting a couple of times a month about resources or thoughts on assessment in libraries. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover please let me know. I’m open to all suggestions.


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Out with a Bang!

As many of you know, OLA LART has languished in the last year with no leadership.  This will be the last post on this blog until such time as someone decides to pick up the torch. As I say good-bye, I do want to point out that there are three sessions sponsored by the Library Assessment RT at this year’s OLA Conference.  They are:

  1. Thursday, April 21 • 11:00am – 12:30pm, Building a Better Library Website through Usability Testing, presented by Crystal Trice, Projects & Training Librarian, Washington County Cooperative Library Services.
  2. Thursday, April 21 • 4:00pm – 5:00pm, What’s Their Story? Using an Online Assessment Tool to Learn About Patron Skills, presented by  Amy Honisett, Public Training Librarian at Multnomah County Library.
  3. Friday, April 22 • 11:00am – 12:30pm, Visual Stories – Putting the Sexy Back in Assessment, presented by Sara Thompson, OLA Communications Chair, Oregon State University – Cascades.

So go check out these stories of assessment at OLA and see you next time!

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Submit a Proposal to the OLA Conference on Assessment!

Don’t ola-logo300miss out on this fabulous opportunity to give a presentation at OLA and have it sponsored by LART.  Guidelines are here, and the deadline is Wednesday, September 30.  Let’s do what we can to make sure there is some quality assessment-related content at OLA!

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Service Design: A Toolkit for Assessment

5776473296_f56c00e5bf_mJust attended this helpful webinar led by Annie Downey and Joe J. Marquez from Reed College. Since I missed the boat in promoting this event, I thought I would let you all in LART-land know that Downey and Marquez have published an article in the new open access journal Weave, called

Service Design: An Introduction to a Holistic Assessment Methodology of Library Services

The article should be useful to public and academic libraries alike.  Happy reading!

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LART leaders present at IL Summit

The Oregon Information Literacy Summit is a one-day conference in Hood River, Oregon on Saturday, May 16.  Your $35 registration fee covers breakfast AND lunch AND a chance to rub elbows with LART leadership! Among the many fine sessions being offered, Kate Rubick and Sara Robertson Seely will lead a discussion called Align and Assess: Acceleration and the New Framework.   How can you say no?  Space is limited so register now!

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Your Guide to Assessment at ACRL 2015

Take a guess–how many assessment-related sessions are offered at ACRL 2015?  If you are reading this message and going to ACRL, then chances are you are hoping to attend some of them.  To make it a little easier, I have created a Guide to Assessment at ACRL 2015.  Take a look at the offerings, and plan your schedule accordingly.  Happy conferencing.

ACRL 2015_logo

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Synthesis of “Assessment in Action” Team Projects

AiAbook jacketACRL has released a new report “Academic Library Contributions to Student Success: Documented Practices from the Field” which synthesizes results from over 70 higher education institutions from across North America which recently completed team-based assessment projects. These projects, from the first year of Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA), resulted in promising and effective approaches to demonstrating the library’s value to students’ academic success.

Interested in participating in the next round of Assessment in Action? ACRL is seeking applications from all types of higher education institutions for 125 additional teams. Apply by March 4, 2015, to participate in the third year of the program, April 2015-June 2016.

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Article by OLA LART founder

Oregon LART misses Rick Stoddart!

Check out his most recent article,

The Possibilities are Assessable: Using an Evidence Based Framework to Identify Assessment Opportunities in Library Technology Departments” published in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice.

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