ALL-SIS Statistics Roundtable Report, 2000/2001

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Submitted by Mila Rush

Outside of the actual roundtable, the activities undertaken this year are the survey on statistics-gathering and the crosswalk tables.

The survey essentially asked three things:  1) what bodies we provide statistical reports to, 2) what measures not currently tracked could be useful, 3) what reports are automatically generated by ILSs (Integrated Library Systems). It was taken over a period of four months (March to June 2001). It was printed in the Spring issue of the ALL-SIS newsletter, posted twice on ALL-SIS listserv, posted on lawlibdir-l listserv, and finally faxed to directors/associate deans in June. Fifty-five responses were received. The compilation of the responses was offered to all respondents and distributed to those interested, as well as to the Roundtable participants.

To help visualize where there is overlap (and thus some potential harmonization) among the questions asked by the ABA Annual Questionnaire part 3, the ARL Academic Law Library Statistics Questionnaire, and IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey, two crosswalks were produced. They are on Access and on Resources. The crosswalks are printed in the Spring issue of the newsletter and mounted on the Web site at http://www.aallnet.org/sis/allsis/20_2/statwgsurvey.htm.

The 2001 Roundtable was held 5:15-6:15p.m., Monday, July16 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Sixteen members were in attendance. Marian Parker represented the ABA Section of Legal Education Law Libraries Committee.

The Roundtable primarily focused on the results of the survey and on what currently are under discussion about the ABA questionnaire.

About two-thirds of law school libraries responded to the survey. Not surprisingly, all fill out the ABA questionnaire, 67% fill out the IPEDS and the GPO biennial surveys each, 51% the ARL survey, 18% the Large Law Libraries cataloging survey, and 1-2 responses each for 28 other surveys.

The responses to Question 2 varied from "no more" to keeping track of "more and more" items or categories. There is some desire to have measures that will make comparisons feasible. Of the desired measures, the most cited is usage, e.g. in-house usage, usage of electronic resources, percentage of collection used. Some of the others cited are salaries, library traffic, circulation transactions, relationship between expenditures and acquisitions, space, technology categories, fund raising, etc.

The responses to Question 3 revealed that even with the same ILS, libraries don't always get the same types of reports. Much of what an ILS can generate is dependent on individual libraries' decisions on what to code, and on how accurately and consistently the coding is followed. A lot of "tweaking" happens in order to utilize some of the ILSs' report capabilities, and of course, some libraries find it easier to just gather their statistics manually.

The most common complaint in response to Question 4 is the lack of coordination and consistency in the questions asked and in the definitions furnished by the different bodies. Others are the "lack of timeliness" and no "advance notice when new questions will be added." Lastly, compliments were received about the simplified ABA questionnaire and our work on the issue of statistics.

The other focus of this year's Roundtable was the ABA questionnaire itself. Marian Parker told the attendees that ABA is dropping questions 13 and 19; is leaving unchanged 28A, 28B, 29, 30 and 34; will investigate the need to distinguish between carrel and non-carrel seating (31 and 32); will need to look further into 38, 40 and 41; and will further analyze questions pertaining to library expenditures. Marian repeatedly asked the group for ideas and suggestions, both generally and on specific questionnaire items, that she can take back to the ABA committee. An idea that came up is for measures that prospective students can find meaningful in comparing law schools.