Project Management for Assessment: A Case Study

Nathaniel King
Overview In the fall of 2010, librarians in the Davis Library Research and Instructional Services (R&IS) Department at UNC Libraries made the transition from a reference librarian model to a subject librarian model. In this new organizational arrangement, librarians assumed a range of new responsibilities. In addition to the traditional scope of reference librarian responsibilities, R&IS librarians added collection management and other duties to their job responsibilities. In an effort to
more » ... an effort to provide focus for these new roles, the department created a department-level strategic plan. With a strong emphasis on service assessment, one of the plan's key components was an evaluation of the Department's reference desk staffing model. This article describes the project management techniques and tools that were used to complete this assessment project. This case study is organized into three sections. The first section provides an overview of the context of UNC Libraries and R&IS. The second section provides a brief definition of a project, project management and the project management life cycle. The third section describes the project management tools and techniques that were used to complete this assessment project. Although this case study describes a specific institutional context, whenever possible, this article emphasizes the elements of project management that are transferable to other library contexts and projects. The Context at UNC Libraries UNC Libraries is an Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member with a monographic collection of approximately 7.3 million volumes, 1 and a budget of approximately $24.6 million during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. 2 Within the UNC Libraries system, R&IS provides research services, instruction, collection management and access to the Library's microforms and government documents collection. Housed within the Walter Royal Davis Library, the Department includes fifteen subject librarians and four support staff. The Department also employs around fifteen undergraduate and graduate students during the academic year. After the transition to the subject librarian model, it became evident that staff needed to carefully evaluate the scope of their responsibilities. One service that was identified as a potential area for reduction was reference services. Consistent with national trends, the