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Chapter One (Introduction)

Background of the Study

Academic libraries have trouble demonstrating their value to higher educational institutions. This may seem counter-intuitive, as libraries have traditionally been an integral part of higher education, particularly tied to accreditation requirements and resources for both student and faculty research. However, in the current culture of electronic information access and heavy competition for institutional budgets, academic libraries must not be content to sit back on their past distinction. They must take a lesson from public libraries, which have always had to justify their existence and value to their constituencies in order to be funded and remain open.


Traditional library quantitative assessment measures are like those collected for the ALS by NCES, including the number of books circulated, patron door count, etc. These measures typically have little meaning for higher education administrators, because they are dissimilar to outcomes reported from academic departments, and are not directly related to institutional goals (such as student academic success, faculty research productivity, etc.).


One of the newer assessment instruments used in academic libraries is LibQUAL+. LibQUAL+ departs from the traditional library measures of inputs and outputs, instead measuring the desire and evaluation of key constituencies (students, staff, faculty, even library employees). These constituencies rate statements on three themes: physical library space, information access, and library services. Because LibQUAL+ measures constituency satisfaction with academic libraries (rather than "hard" outputs), it is more meaningful and potentially more relate-able to measures of institutional goal achievement (such as student academic success or student engagement).


Statement of the Problem

I am studying the relationship between variables measuring student engagement (NSSE) and student satisfaction with their institution's library (LibQUAL+), because I want to discover correlations between academic librariy assessments and measures of institutional goals, in order to present a more meaningful way that academic libraries can demonstrate their value to their parent institution.


  1. Is there a meaningful relationship between measures of student engagement and student satisfaction with academic libraries?
    1. Student satisfaction is measured in the areas of academic librarys' 1) physical space, 2) information access, and/or 3) service.
  2. Is there a meaningful relationship between measures of student academic success and student satisfaction with their institution's academic library?


Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to identify variables in the LibQUAL+ instrument that are correlated with measures of student engagement recorded in NSSE. This will enable academic libraries to 1) show direct relation to institutional mission, and to 2) relate academic library value in a way that is meaningful for higher education institutions.


Significance of the Study

In this current economic climate, every academic and service department must be able to demonstrate their value to the institution to justify their funding. This value must be communicated to higher education administrators in a way that is meaningful to them, particularly if those outcomes can be directly correlated with department outcomes. If academic libraries continue to present irrelevant, incomprehensible data and annual reports to higher education administrators, they will continue to find themselves misunderstood and under-valued.


Definition of Terms

academic libraries:

institution of higher education: (as defined by NCES, academic institution)



student engagement:


Theoretical Framework

...still working on this part.


Chapter Three (Methodology)

  • This will be an applied research study with a casual-comparative design, using secondary data.
  • I will be identifying measures of student value on particular library services or resources (LibQUAL+) as predictors of levels of student engagement (NSSE).
  • restate my research methods here.


Population, Sample, Participants

  • This study will examine secondary data from the LibQUAL+ and NSSE datasets, gathered from ten institutions of higher education and their academic libraries.
  • This sample will be selected (HOW?) from the population of (approximately) 3,000 academic libraries in the United States.  
  • WHY did I make these decisions?



  • LibQUAL+
  • NSSE


Data Collection Methods

...specify how these two datasets gathered data, also what I did to clean up the data


Data Analysis

  • Multiple regression on a variety of variables... 
  • I used R to calculate my statistical analysis...
  • I have not yet firmly identified my independent or my dependent variables.



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