The American Library Association (ALA) has named Viewing Library Metrics from Different Perspectives: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes the winner of the 2010 Greenwood Publishing Group Award for the Best Book in Library Literature.

The book was written by Robert E. Dugan, director of the Mildred F. Sawyer Library, Peter Hernon of Simmons College, and Danuta A. Nitecki of Drexel University and published by Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO.

The annual award will be presented in June at ALA’s national conference in Washington, D.C.

The award committee of library practitioners praised the authors’ comprehensive approach to an issue that pervades every aspect of modern library life; their exhaustive coverage of all aspects of the topic; the enduring relevance of their work; their combination of readability and thorough scholarship; and the fact that this book fills an important lacuna in modern library literature.

Book's roots in self-study

A catalyst for the book was the need for the Sawyer Library to prepare and write the description and appraisal sections supporting NEASC Standard 7 (Library and Other Information Resources) for Suffolk University’s self-study submitted in 2002.

Dugan, along with Becky Fulweiler of the Sawyer Library staff, developed a statistical-based management information system (SMIS) of library metrics back to fiscal year 1992. A second catalyst was a 2002 article co-authored by Dugan and Hernon, “Outcomes Assessment: Not Synonymous with Inputs and Outputs,” which was based, in part, on the early experiences of applying the Sawyer Library’s SMIS.

System adopted by many libraries

Since 2002, the Sawyer Library’s SMIS has been expanded and is frequently used for library analysis and decision making. The SMIS metrics also are used to prepare the library’s annual report, respond to requests for information from external questionnaires and surveys, and to provide accountability information to students and the University community concerning the usage and operations of the Sawyer Library through its University web pages.

Other academic libraries around the world have adopted the Sawyer Library SMIS for their internal use, and graduate library science programs throughout the United States refer to the library metrics and reports found on the Sawyer Library’s Web site in their courses.

Dugan continues to track the use and development of metrics involving library usage, processes, effectiveness, efficiencies, and impact and outcomes. A follow-up book, Engaging in Evaluation and Assessment Research is under way by the three co-authors.