Welcome to the Understanding Library Impacts Project


This project grew out of my work on the Understanding Library Impacts (ULI) protocol. The ULI protocol is a suite of assessment instruments designed to help academic libraries detect and communicate their impact on student learning. Since 2010, the protocol has been used in ten library assessment projects at seven colleges and universities and more projects are planned for 2013-2014. I have launched this blog and website to share updates on ULI projects and to foster information sharing on library impacts research.

Thank you for visiting. 

Derek Rodriguez, MSLS, Ph.D.
The Understanding Library Impacts Project
Chapel Hill, NC

ULI project paper presented at QQML 2013

Lisa Norberg of Barnard College presented our paper, Assessing library impact on student learning outcomes: a case study using the Understanding Library Impacts Protocol, at the 5th Annual Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries conference in Rome, Italy in June 2013. The paper reports on a project using the Understanding Library Impacts (ULI) protocol to assess library contributions to undergraduate student learning in Empirical Reasoning at Barnard College as part of a 3 year grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Advances in Library Impacts Research

I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts on library impacts research with members of the Colorado Academic Library Association in a webinar on May 10, 2013. Slides from the session have been posted on the ULI blog and references are posted below.

This session began with an overview of the Understanding Library Impacts Protocol. The remainder of the talk focused on two advances in library impacts research. First, I described ways that emerging student learning outcomes frameworks can change the way libraries approach the problem of investigating academic library impact. Second, I suggested several ways libraries could move past perceived barriers to library impacts research. I highlighted recent projects like the Library Impact Data Project and the University of Minnesota’s Library Data and Student Success Project that are demonstrating ways to use individual student-level data in library impacts research while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of library users.

Thanks to the CoALA for sponsoring this event and to the librarians who attended this session.


Association of American Colleges and Universities (2010). The VALUE rubrics. http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics

Association of American Colleges and Universities (2007). The Essential Learning Outcomes http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/EssentialOutcomes_Chart.pdf

Association of American Colleges and Universities (2007). College learning for the new century: A report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. Washington, DC. http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_final.pdf

Association of American Colleges and Universities (2013). Quality Collaboratives: Assessing and Reporting Degree Qualifications Profile Competencies in the Context of Transfer. http://www.aacu.org/qc/ and http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/projects/quality-collaboratives

Adelman, C. (2009). The Bologna Process for U.S. eyes: Re-learning Higher Education in the Age of Convergence. Washington, DC: Institute for Higher Education Policy. http://www.ihep.org/assets/files/EYESFINAL.pdf

Institute for Evidence Based Change (2013). Tuning USA. http://tuningusa.org/ and http://www.iebcnow.org

Lumina Foundation, (2011). The Degree Qualifications Profile. http://degreeprofile.org/resources.php

Lumina Foundation, (2011). The Profile Defined, http://degreeprofile.org/profile_defined.php

Matthews, Joseph R. (2012) “Assessing library contributions to university outcomes: the need for individual student level data”, Library Management, 33(6/7), pp.389 – 402

Nichols, James O. and Nichols, Karen W. A road map for improvement of student learning and support services through assessment. Flemington, NJ: Agathon Press, 2005, p. 74

Poll, Roswitha. and Payne, Philip. (2006). “Impact measures for libraries and information services,” Library Hi Tech, 24(4) 547-562.

Rhodes, Terrel, ed. 2010. Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and Tools for Using Rubrics. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Rhodes, T.L. (2008). VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education. New Directions in Institutional Research. Assessment supplement, 2007, 59-70.

Rodriguez, Derek A. (2013) “Answering How and Why questions of Library Impact on Undergraduate Student Learning,” paper presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference, Indianapolis, IN, April 13, 2013. http://www.uliproject.com/answering-how-and-why-questions-of-library-impact-on-undergraduate-student-learning/

Nackerud, S. & Fransen, J. & Peterson, K. & Mastel, K. (2013). Analyzing Demographics: Assessing Library Use Across the Institution. portal: Libraries and the Academy 13(2), 131-145.

Soria, K. M. & Fransen, J. & Nackerud, S. (2013). Library Use and Undergraduate Student Outcomes: New Evidence for Students’ Retention and Academic Success. portal: Libraries and the Academy 13(2), 147-164.

Stone, Graham, Pattern, David and Ramsden, Bryony (2012) Library Impact Data Project: hit, miss or maybe. In: Proving value in challenging times: proceedings of the 9th Northumbria international conference on performance measurement in libraries and information services. University of York, York, pp. 385-390. http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/15563/1/Northumbria_conference_final.pdf

Answering “How” and “Why” Questions of Library Impact on Undergraduate Student Learning

Answering “How” and “Why” Questions of Library Impact on Undergraduate Student Learning

In this paper presented at ACRL 2013, I propose three criteria for selecting library impact research methods including creating credible connections between library use and student learning outcomes, getting behind the numbers to answer how and why questions of library impact, and working at scale. Examples illustrating these criteria are drawn from recent projects using the Understanding Library Impacts protocol.

[Edited: Thanks to fellow panelists and to all of the attendees of this program. Slides are now available from this talk.]

Answering questions about library impact on student learning (essay)

Rodriguez, Derek A. (2012). “Answering questions about library impact on student learning.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, April 4, 2012. [essay]

Reports results from the 2011 dissertation study illustrating the value of the critical incident technique for revealing evidence of library impact on student learning outcomes. The Learning Activities Crosswalk is demonstrated using quantitative and qualitative results and the capstone rubric used by the Utah State University History Department.

Demonstrating library contributions to student learning outcomes in the age of accountability (paper)

Rodriguez, Derek A. (2011). “The ‘Understanding Library Impacts’ protocol: demonstrating academic library contributions to student learning outcomes in the age of accountability,” Paper presented at the 9th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, August 23, 2011  [proceedings-preprint]

Provides preliminary results from the 2011 ULI study and demonstrates the Learning Activities crosswalk in action.  The essay also makes the case for linking evidence of library impact to learning outcomes frameworks such as the Essential Learning Outcomes and VALUE rubrics defined by the AAC&U and Tuning outcomes for discipline-specific learning outcomes.


How Digital Library Services Contribute to Undergraduate Learning (paper)

Rodriguez, Derek A. (2006). “How Digital Library Services Contribute to Undergraduate Learning: An Evaluation of the ‘Understanding Library Impacts’ Protocol”. In Strauch, Katina, Steinle, Kim, Bernhardt, Beth R. and Daniels, Tim, Eds. Proceedings 26th Annual Charleston Conference, Charleston (US). [Conference proceedings pre-print]

A brief conference paper describing the methods and results of the first Understanding Library Impacts project carried out at a small liberal arts college.