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Assessment of Network Member Libraries

Posted by on March 25th, 2008 Posted in: News From NNLM PNR

In Spring 2007, in order to better understand the assets, strengths and needs of our member organizations, the RML conducted a network member assessment via a web-based questionnaire. SurveyMonkey was used to collect responses. Two hundred and four (204) library members were eligible to participate and 142 questionnaires were returned, making for a 70% response rate. Library respondents included health sciences, academic (non-health sciences), public, government, corporate and other libraries.

The NN/LM PNR would like to thank all the network member libraries that participated in the assessment and contributed to the information that was collected. Over the next years of our contract your responses will help the RML shape and improve NN/LM PNR services. Also, responses will provide baseline data for evaluating the effectiveness of our program during our current 5-year contract with the National Library of Medicine.

A full analysis and report will be made available soon. Evaluation consultant, Dr. Cynthia Olney, of the Outreach Evaluation and Resource Center, is finalizing it.

In the meantime, here are some interesting highlights from sections of the report:


  • Of the 142 respondents 49% were hospital/medical center libraries, 27% were academic libraries, 10% were public libraries, 4% were government libraries, and 9 % were corporate and other libraries.
  • These percentages closely correspond to the percentages of library types of the full network membership.


  • 63% of respondents said a librarian is involved in the planning or decision-making process regarding technology at their library and another 21% said a librarian is involved in the decision-making process for both the library and their institution.
  • When asked to list technology gaps or issues, security issues and lack of IT support were the main technology problems at many libraries. The most frequent technological needs were for WIFI and computers or computer upgrades. However, 54% said their libraries do make WiFi available in the library for users to connect to the Internet.


  • The NN/LM PNR web site received the highest ratings as an effective method of communication, with 80% rating it as useful or somewhat useful. However, 11% of respondents said they have never used the web site.
  • About two-thirds said the HLIB-NW discussion list (68%), Dragonfly Newsletter (67%), and updates at state and regional meetings (66%) were also useful or somewhat useful means of communication.


  • Only 25% of respondents have applied for PNR funding of any type. The reason most respondents gave for not applying is “lack of time” (46%) followed by lack of staff resources (31%).


  • A majority of network member libraries (62%) do not have a formal outreach programs. However, in the written comments respondents mention informal outreach efforts carried out by the libraries and that libraries support outreach done by others at their institutions.


  • 80% of the respondents were DOCLINE libraries.
  • To the question “Have DOCLINE requests gone up or down in the past year?” 29% said up, 27% said down and 32% said holding steady.
  • Among DOCLINE libraries the most frequently used method for receiving electronic document delivery was .pdfs through email, used by 89% of libraries. 78% of DOCLINE libraries use Email .pdf for sending electronic document delivery.


  • 59% of DOCLINE and 43% of non-DOCLINE libraries purchase e-journals through a consortium or other multi-library purchasing plan.
  • 50% of DOCLINE libraries and 30% of non-DOCLINE libraries use some of their electronic resources for ILL.


  • The top four areas that were listed as training needs were (in order):
    1. Keeping abreast of new technologies (61%)
    2. Managing copyright (35%)
    3. Showing the value of your library (35%)
    4. Negotiating e-licensing agreements (32%)

Benefits of Membership

  • The top three benefits of membership in the NN/LM PNR are:
    1. “Enhanced communication with other library professionals” (77%)
    2. “Classes taught by NN/LM PNR staff” (75%)
    3. “NN/LM PNR staff consultation and support” (75%)
  • The RML service rated as most beneficial by the largest number of respondents was enhanced communication with other library professionals (77%), with almost as many respondents saying they considered the classes taught by NN/LM PNR staff (75%), DOCLINE (73%), the Network Member Directory (73%), and NN/LM PNR staff consultation and support (71%) as benefits of membership.
  • Teaching curricula and materials were rated as beneficial by 63% of respondents and the NN/LM PNR Lending Library/Net Library by 62%.

And finally, some unbiased, impartial comments from the members:

  • “The PNR is the best RML in the country”
  • “You are valuable and responsive to member’s needs and so professional – I appreciate the hard work you do.”
  • “Great job — great staff with excellent expertise who are always willing to help out!”

Remember, you are always welcome to talk to the RML staff and make suggestions about our programs and ways that we can support our network members.

For questions or comments about the results, please contact Maryanne Blake, Outreach/Evaluation Coordinator at blakema@u.washington.edu

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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