January 2013

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National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Gathering Library Data

Our focus at The Virtual Librarian Service is the providing of management of resources and services to the solely online student, the hybrid student using the online library or the campus based student using the online library. How we describe the library in the self-study report requires many pieces of information from many organizations, but I pay attention greatly to the reporting Agencies, the USDE and the various accrediting bodies. So how the NCES gathers data and how they define things in the virtual library interests me. And sometimes before your very eyes, you can see the national trend forming or the education department reaction to changes being implemented by the education industry. Before I discus the use of the NCES academic comparative analysis tools, I am going to share what I have learned about their gathering of that data.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) : The Library Data

The National Center for Education Statistics NCES (http://www.nces.ed.gov) is one place to go and get comparative post-secondary academic library data when looking to benchmark your library to another. Reporting library data is mandated to be gathered, but not verified. Librarians input the statistics and they can be flawed by interpretation, inefficient gathering or full of misinterpretation. But it is one tool to use in the library accreditation narrative so it is a place to learn about and is unique in what it provides.