Purpose – Assessment activities in academic libraries continue to grow as libraries explore assessment endeavors. Ranging from basic stats gathering and reporting to surveys, focus groups, and usability studies and beyond. Many practitioners are finding it necessary to create new processes and programs, with little guidance. The purpose of this paper is to paint a broad picture of assessment activities in Association of Research Libraries (ARL) university libraries with the goal of creating a resource for libraries developing or improving their assessment programs.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey was developed that asked questions about assessment personnel, activities, mission, and website. A total of 113 surveys were sent to academic library members of ARL. Survey results were analyzed to compile a list of recommended good practices for assessment and working with assessment committees in academic libraries.

Findings – The investigators had a response rate of 43 percent. The open-ended nature of the survey questions allowed for the respondents to specifically narrow down the problems and opportunities inherent in library assessment committees.

Originality/value – This study takes the temperature of the current state of assessment programs in ARL libraries, demonstrating the growth of assessment programs. It begins to document the practices of these libraries, particularly in regards to the sometimes informal and hard to track use of committees and other in-house collaborations, as a first step toward developing best practices for the field. The results illuminate productive areas for further study, including investigating how to measure a culture of assessment and maximizing impact of assessment information presented on assessment websites.

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Copyright © 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This article first appeared in Performance Measurement and Metrics 17:3 (2016), 224-240.

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