Using strategic assessment to demonstrate impact: a case study at the HKUST learning commons

Gabrielle Ka Wai Wong
<span title="2014-08-05">2014</span> <i title="Emerald"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">Library Management</a> </i> &nbsp;
Assessment has become a core part of library culture in developing and evaluating new services, space and facilities. As more libraries worldwide embrace the service model of "commons", librarians have been exploring effective means to assess this new genre of learning space and support. "Information commons can enhance learning, provide an environment for students that is both academic and social, and foster a sense of community on campus" (Lippincott, 2006) . Although she uses the term
more &raquo; ... ation commons", Lippincott's comment is valid for a wide range of new learning space that modern libraries develop. The conversion of traditional library space to the "commons" model has also been a trend in Hong Kong higher education in the past decade. The migration was accelerated by the university program reform in Hong Kong: all government-funded higher institutions in the city changed from a 3-year program structure to a 4-year one in Fall 2012. In this connection, many university libraries embarked on capital projects to create commons-style space to receive the new learning landscape. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library (HKUST Library) completed the Learning Commons (LC) in Spring 2012. With the goal of being a supportive and engaging learning space, the LC provides 600 seats in the 1,800 square meters floor space, which are configured as a variety of styles and purposes: individual or collaborative, relaxed or focused, open or enclosed, flexible or designated, traditional or multimedia, high-touch or high-tech. The LC is an integral part of the Lee Shau Kee Library Building, yet it is capable to open 24x7 independently; this became one of its key feature. Usage statistics, taken regularly, indicated a high traffic volume at the LC. However, the Library lacked qualitative data about users' experience. A strategic assessment was hence conducted in Spring 2013 to further evaluate users' perception and to identify areas for improvement. This article describes the assessment exercise, from planning, implementing, to data processing and presentation. Carried out strategically, the assessment did more than giving us a list of actions for service and facility improvement; it provided strong evidence for the Library to demonstration its impact on students' life, and brought us recognition and support from the university administration. The outcome was beyond the Library's original expectation.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.1108/lm-10-2013-0100</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:pxxzxc5r2rdadbuv45l2u5yciu</a> </span>
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