Current Assessment Projects

Library Data – Dashboards, Analysis, & Partnership with Dal Analytics

Proper data recording and analysis are important for assessing the delivery of our services and usage of resources. The Libraries recently conducted a review of our service usage data sets and recording protocols, resulting in several changes. In the spring of 2017 we migrated from Springshare's LibAnalytics platform to LibInsight Lite. Simple analysis functions allow us to use this data for service support decisions and we have begun using Tableau for data visualizations (see the Library Data page). Future data vizzes will include Research Assistance sessions, gate counts, and study room bookings.

Service Points

This year, the Libraries embarked on a two-phase Service Point Assessment. The first phase, an internal survey of service providers, is nearing completion as we analyze the survey response data. Phase two will involve feedback from the user community.

Awareness of Services/Resources

This project is currently being tackled in two ways. We are troubled by anecdotal information indicating that many students are unaware of some of our services, including research assistance and document delivery - services that can improve academic performance. In phase two of the Service Point assessment (see above) we hope to formally determine the level of awareness of services available through the library service points. We have also been informally asking students about their awareness of our services in our Student Input and Feedback Team meetings – see "Feedback" below.

New Learning Commons and Other Library Spaces

Both the Wallace McCain Learning Commons (WMLC) and the Kellogg Library Learning Commons (KLLC) have been assessed twice since opening in the 2015-16 academic year (see these reports under Past Projects). The MacRae Library on the Agricultural campus has also been assessed this past year as it readied for renovations on the top floor. We are currently conducting participant observation throughout the Killam Library as phase 1 of an assessment study.  

Ensure Effectiveness of Online Learning Community

The Libraries are currently conducting a pilot Student Input and Feedback Team (SIFT) online focus group with a group of students in distance programs. This focus group will analyze how well the Libraries are meeting the needs of distance learners and will include a focus on available resources to support their use of the online learning environment.


The Libraries are conducting a consultation with faculty and students regarding journal subscriptions and big package deals, in order to establish fair pricing with our vendors for essential journals. This project has involved surveys, usage data and a voting database. See the cost reduction strategy page for more information.


Feedback from our user community is important to us. We receive this in several ways – in person through our Comments, Compliments and Complaints (CCCs) boards at the Killam Library, and online via our feedback form and our social media platforms. We are currently compiling and coding this data, using LibInsight Lite, and will be able to do some interesting analyses soon.

We also gather feedback from students with our Student Input and Feedback Team. This isn't a "team" per se, rather we hold lunchtime sessions once per year on all our campuses and invite any students to attend, eat some pizza and discuss different aspects of the library with us. This feedback is also coded and we produce reports and discuss findings, making internal recommendations for improvements. Here is our report from 2016-17.

Program Impact on Retention/Student Success

The Libraries are currently measuring the impact of research assistance on a specific group of at-risk students through a survey and a GPA analysis which is conducted by the Dal Analytics office. Survey results are very promising as students express a positive impact on their academic performance as well as their feeling of connection to the university. We are currently investigating a means to scan all student ids on a voluntary basis when they access research assistance to determine if there is a general correlation between research assistance and higher grades.

Discovery Layer

The Novanet consortium is conducting usability testing of the Novanet catalogue interface in the winter of 2018, following up from some preliminary testing done in the summer of 2017. Novanet libraries from across the province will participate in this testing, which will involve a pretest, test (7 observable tasks to be completed by participants), and a post-test. The Dalhousie Libraries will participate in the usability testing, which may begin in February. It is hoped that testing with a large sample of participants from across the province will result in recommendations for improving the Novanet experience for all users.