New Standard for Measuring Public Services (2016)

Update: The comment period for Version 1 closed on August 22, 2016. Version 2 is open for comments January 18-February 18, 2017. Archivists and special collections librarians should direct further comments to Task Force co-chairs Amy Schindler (SAA) and Christian Dupont (ACRL/RBMS).  

Comments Sought

The SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Standardized Statistical Measures for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries seeks comment on the proposed new standard defining appropriate statistical measures and performance metrics to govern the collection and analysis of statistical data for describing public services provided by archival repositories and special collections libraries. 

The document is available for review and comment beginning Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The proposed standard is available here or a PDF of the document can also be downloaded below.

Provide your comments on any aspect of the proposed standard by commenting on individual pages of the document as presented here on the SAA website. You do not have to be an SAA member to comment on the document posted on the SAA website, but you must create an account.

On the RBMS website, the document has been mounted using the plugin for Wordpress, which allows anyone to leave comments linked to individual phrases and sentences within the document.

Comments may also be sent to Task Force co-chairs Amy Schindler (SAA) and Christian Dupont (ACRL/RBMS). 

The deadline for comments is Monday, August 22, 2016.

The Task Force will also accept comments during its meeting at the ALA Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 25, 2016 and at an open forum and task force meeting at the SAA Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 4, 2016.




Table of Contents


Measures and Metrics:

Appendix A: Glossary

JTFPS-Version1-As-Posted_2016-06-21.pdf231.84 KB
frantia says:
User type

Very helpful suggestions in the document, especially suggesting a way to handle visits and unique visitors.

on p. 4 the definition of "internal users" doesn't fit with ours.  Internal users at a municipal government archives would only include city employees and elected officials.  Local residents would be classified depending on who they were: lawyer, business person, archivist/librarian, general public etc. We do not differentiate between "local" and "far away" users of the archives.

2michy says:
Collection Use: Consultation Hours

Researchers have access to a cart of material (up to 10 items), which is located next to their desk.  We check out all of the boxes to the researcher after they are signed in, and then they proceed from box to box, and when the researcher is finished with all 10 items on the cart, the items are then marked for reshelving (or duplication).

2michy says:
Reading Room Visits: Reader Hours

We are a "stand alone" Archives, we do not monitor hours in the reading room.  We allow users to go between 2 reading rooms to access microfilm machines, and do not keep track of their time of where they are located in the building.  They are signed in at the beginning of the day, and signed out at the end of the day.

2michy says:
Reference transactions: Time Spent, Purpose of transaction

Time Spent: We currently do not track the staff time spent investigating or researching as part of a reference transaction.  At one time we would track it for a two week period during the year (for 30 minute intervals - this was to designate funding for material on deposit), but currently that data is not being collected. We found that sometimes there were special projects that skewed the results for the week selected.

The Purpose of Transaction: We divide our transactions between Donor requests and General Reference requests.  Many of our collections are from active organizations or living family members, and we provide reference services for these organizations and people.  Sometimes the donor request is actually an archival reference request that was directed to the organization, which the organization then forwards to us for reply.  We also distinguish between general reference, and when the donor organization wants historical context and analysis (on what the organization did in the past) - these questions are handled by the historians on staff (not archival staff).

Marti1102 says:
Importance of Statistics

If your institution relies on funding for public service and public records information,
Statistics kept daily of counts of patrons, phone calls and emails and records used
or copied for patrons is essential for documentation.
It is the only way to prove service and usage of your holdings (county governmental records
or special collections). Documentation of usage of your records is essential to your
agency or institution for requests of funding and staff retention and recruitment.

rseale says:
Comments for draft

My comments:

p. 7 under Basic Measure ("Reference Questions"): directions say not to include directional/general information questions-- why not?

p. 8 Track the time spent by staff on Reference Transactions: I've always felt this is hard to do unless you only conduct reference during a specific chunk of time and even then there are constant interrupts so it's hard to reliably track time. Also, sometimes you can be working with a patron for longer than the stats period, so do you start over every month? For example, you can be coordinating a large reproductions order or a detailed research question, so it's still the same topic but the back and forth continues for months. How do you track time for that if you are taking monthly stats? Start over each month?

Throughout document sugges using an automated system such as a spreadsheet but even in that case, there is still a person who manually enters that data, which is time consuming. Not saying keeping detailed stats is a bad thing, but it can be hard to put this into practice consistently. Perhaps there's a way to keep detailed stats for a month out of every quarter or one week a month or something, because otherwise it doesn't seem very sustainable.

Question: why does it count as "staff Circulation" (pg. 13) or "Staff Reference Use" (pg. 15) when Staff checks out a collection unit on behalf of a researcher/patron who can't visit in person. At my current institution & former, we always counted those stats as patron stats. At my current institution it is indicated that these patron stats are for distance requests (via correspondence, not in person). It doesn't seem accurate to count them as Staff Circulation if it's for patron use. Staff circulation should represent use of a collection for staff use (exhibitions, exhibition research, research for blog posts, troubleshooting, etc.)

p. 18 - How is ILL Requests sent different fro ILL Requests Filled? 

I passed this document onto our Reference Specialist and here are her comments: We are doing a lot of this in a very general way.  Some of this—tracking actual time spent and user demographics—would take a considerable amount of somebody’s time to compile and analyze.  (Even if it was partially automated).  Also, today’s privacy-minded patrons might be troubled by extensive demographic tracking, if it came to their attention that we were doing it.

The results, however, would be interesting.  As the draft mentions, information derived from this would be useful in making decisions on digitizing items that get a lot of use, or identifying other agencies to work with for promoting collections or providing visitor services.