We just published our annual Leading Indicators Report for the academic year 2011-12. Even though the news is not great (if you think an ever increasing quantity of service is good) we are committed to transparency so we publish such results -- warts and all. What we are wondering now is what led to this dip?
In both digital services, physical services, and physical and digital resource use we have seen a marked decline of between 7-23%. Gate count, the number of people who actually come through the door declined by almost 22% which correlated with a 15% in total check outs and a 14% decline in reference queries. OK, so were people going even more heavily digital than in previous years? But no, we also saw a 23% decline in searches for digital resources, an 8% decline in digital documents views, and a 19% decline is visits to the library's website. A small bright spot here is that people's searches continue to become more efficient in that they seem to be finding the documents they want with less searching. We also saw a 23% decrease in instruction sessions. Did this decline cause the others? If faculty requested less instruction from librarians and we were in fewer classrooms, perhaps students used library resources less. This really concerns me because I don't think we are well enough integrated into the classroom, partnering with faculty to teach information literacy as it is. I really don't want to fall back from the gains we have made.
Interestingly two bright spots are increased queries in Special Collections & Archives, admittedly from a very low base, and continued strong growth in interlibrary borrowing, which continued to rise, this year by just over 12%.
With the renovation of the main floor and a full complement of public service librarians focused on instruction, we are looking to see if that number turns around in 2012-13. We are also planning to repeat LibQual to see if we can learn anything from that.