Survey Results Introduction

The SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Standardized Statistical Measures for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries is currently developing a 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. In August-September 2015, the Task Force disseminated a survey requesting responses from repositories about their practices and priorities in the gathering of public services data. Results from the survey will be shared in a series of brief posts published here over the coming weeks.

This first post will share demographic and other information about who responded to the survey. The survey’s question format included multiple choice and open-ended questions.

When the survey closed on September 21, 2015, 311 responses had been received. By far the largest repository type of respondents was college/university (159, 51.6%) followed by government (38, 12.3%), museum (25, 8.1%), other (20, 6.5%), business (18, 5.8%), research library or manuscript repository (18, 5.8%), religious (14, 4.5%), historical society (12, 3.9%), private or personal (3, 1%), and tribal (1, 0.3%). In regard to the number of full-time equivalent employees, just over half of respondents had 2-10 (155, 50.7%) followed by 1 or fewer (60, 19.6%), 11-25 (52, 17%), 51 or more (22, 7.2%), and 26-50 (16, 5.2%).

The individual completing the survey was asked to select what best describes their job title and not surprisingly the top response was archivist (126, 41%) followed by director or manager (98, 31.9%), special collections librarian (38, 12.4%), other (21, 6.8%), curator (13, 4.2%), staff or paraprofessional (9, 2.9%), and intern (2, 0.7%). No respondents selected the option volunteer. Of the 311 survey respondents, 278 or 90.6% responded that their repository did collect data about public services. Twenty-six or 8.5% responded their repository did not collect data about public services and 3 respondents or 1% did not know if their repository collected public services data. Those replying no to this question were not advanced to the later questions in the survey.

The final multiple choice question in the introductory section of the survey asked respondents how their repository collects public services or user data. Respondents were able to select multiple options. Paper was the most popular selection (176, 57.5%), followed by spreadsheet (141, 46.1%), purchased or subscription tool or application such as LibAnalytics, Aeon, etc. (95, 31%), homegrown tool or application (86, 28.1%), other (31, 10.1%), not applicable (21, 6.9%), and “I don’t know” (2, 0.7%). The open-ended follow-up question asked respondents to share more about how, when, and why they make use of the collecting methods. Responses reinforced that numerous repositories use a mix of collecting methods often first collecting data on paper and later entering the data into a spreadsheet, database, or other tool such as Aeon or LibAnalytics. The need to submit reports to administration or other governing bodies were cited by those who create regular reports. A handful of respondents indicated they had used to their data to justify new hires and allocation of other resources.

Posts In This Series

And don't forget to submit your comments on the proposed New Standard for Measuring Public Services by August 22, 2016.