Library assessment gatherings — how many are there?

There is an increasing number of library assessment community gatherings so it’s worth doing a brief update on what’s happening.

Historically, what is known as the biennial Northumbria conference with roots in the UK dates back more than a decade ago. Similarly, the biennial Evidence Based Library and Information Science gathering with its roots in evidence based medicine has a good history moving around continents (Europe, America, Australia). The annual QQML (Quantitative and Qualitative Methods for Libraries) started a few years ago in Greece and in more recent years has been around other countries in Europe (Ireland, Italy, the upcoming one will take place in Turkey end of May 2014) and has attracted people from all over the world.

Our own North American Library Assessment Conference started back in 2006 — by now it has become the largest event ARL hosts on a biennial basis with the University of Washington as our partner institution and the event taking place in August 2014 on its campus. This year we had a record number of 254 proposals submitted. We also have a smaller gathering in conjunction with ALA annual and mid-wintner for an hour an half of those interested in library assessment usually with a short program related to ARL program activities (a description of the latest one from Philadelphia is coming up shortly!

We have seen a sprinkling of events this year that are local in character in North American and sometimes with a topic emphasis — to name a few that took place last fall: the Southeastern Library Assessment Conference, the Canadian Library Assessment event (limited to 50 people), and coming up later this year events at CUNY, Drexel, iSchool in Toronto, …. and the Library Research Seminar is coming back at UIUC in the fall!

Lot’s of activity reflecting probably great needs assessment, evaluation and research as libraries reinvent themselves for the 21st century … are libraries getting better in improving their services to their users as a result? I am optimistic and hopeful person, so let me say ‘yes’!

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