Session Type: Working Session

Session Description:
Although starting a digital library project is an ambitious undertaking, it can be an equal challenge to maintain one—especially to ensure it remains relevant and engaging for its various constituents. Managers and developers will encounter many junctures at which they must refine the project’s development trajectory in response to changing technology, funding, and expectations.

At these junctures, it can be useful to step back and take stock of the project and where it fits in its broader environment. A sound program of assessment can be extremely helpful in providing key data about the project and its constituencies, and consequently shedding light on the best way forward.

This working session will provide attendees with a framework for assessment of a digital library project, service, or collection. The presenters will provide concrete examples of methodologies and tools that can be used, drawing from their own experience undertaking a multi-faceted assessment of the Online Archive of California and Calisphere online digital collections. Specifically, the session will cover the following assessment components, which could be applied to a range of scenarios—big and small—for specific projects and programs:

• Identifying constituencies
• Business decisions: drivers for assessment
• Constructing answerable questions and hypotheses
• Methodologies
• Analysis of findings

Working session attendees will be provided with time and guidance to consider assessment opportunities and approaches for their own digital library projects, mostly likely in small groups followed by a broader discussion with all participants. Presenters will guide the conversation to include thornier issues and challenges arising from assessment, for example: understanding findings within context, refining the assessment questions as data is gathered, the art of turning findings into recommendations, and the tricky business of communicating outcomes not everyone wants to hear.
Attendees will leave with a solid understanding of how assessment can inform strategic decision-making, as well as an initial plan for applying assessment principles to their programs and projects.

Session Leaders:

Sherri Berger, California Digital Library, University of California
Lisa Schiff, California Digital Library

Session Notes:
View the community reporting Google doc for this session!

Session Resources:

Assessment Worksheet