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

The National Center for Education Statistics NCES ( 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.

Data is collected every two years from over 3700 post-secondary academic instituions, and for the FY2012 data form due mid 2013, NCES states that there are changes for the library section from FY2010. For example, the statement on information literacy is still clearly defined but NCES has changed terminologies for academic libraries reporting and appear to support the integration of information literacy strategies into course development and thus are collecting data about what the institution does from what the library does. The changes from NCES will reflect current government trends in espousing education policies.

Item 800 – 804 – Information literacy questions – deleted

Replaced with: Item 800 – Articulated student learning/student success outcomes
Item 801 – Information literacy incorporated in institution’s student learning/student success outcomes

Obviously for the clients of The Virtual Librarian Service, all of whom have massive online distance education programs, I am interested in the growth of the collection of data for online library activities. Thus clarity in defining information literacy and how it is articulated iterests me, but I also require clarity in how the data is collected to represent a virtual library service and resources. so the definition of a reference interaction for virtual reference is mandatory.

A virtual reference interaction is a question that is received and responded to in electronic format and conforms to reference interactions in that it is an information contact that involves the knowledge, use, commendation, interpretation, or instruction in the use of one or more information sources by a member of the library staff. Virtual reference interactions include e-mail, webform, chat, text messaging, instant messaging, or other network-based medium designed to support virtual reference.

The Questionaiire for FY2012 is at

In my next blog I will outline how to use the Comparative tool for comparing post-secondary libraries. which is at

Use my contact form if you need help positioning your academic online library to support your accreditation goals.