Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2010

Publication Title

Library Leadership and Management





First page number:



Library middle managers juggle a variety of responsibilities. They are responsible for supervisory tasks such as coaching and team building. They are responsible for the service their unit provides or the output of their unit. They report up the organization and are responsible for planning for efficiency and quality. They manage those who report to them as well, motivating and mobilizing. Underlying all of these responsibilities is the need for sound decision making, based on data and a steady supply of information.

The growing literature on classroom and library assessment simultaneously offers useful ideas for gathering data, and provides a bewildering array of advice and approaches regarding assessment. The terms used to describe assessment and its parts are neither intuitive nor mutually exclusive. The methods range from the simple to the statistically obscure. Stated rationales for assessment exist at a variety of levels, such as evaluating the library’s impact on the education of students and measuring service quality with specialized tools or instruments.

This paper reviews types of assessment, and suggests a simplified approach that can help the middle manager gather the information needed for decision making in a thoughtful way—but without extensive infrastructure, specialized training, or the need to learn statistical-operations math! The question of whether the data thus gathered can be relied upon for decision making is addressed, and examples of assessment in action are provided. Ways the data can prove useful to the middle manager are suggested.


Academic libraries – Evaluation; Library administration – Evaluation; Library administration — Research; Library administrators; Middle managers


Library and Information Science




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Publisher Citation

Brown, J. M. (2010). Informal assessment for library middle managers. Library Leadership and Management, 24, 18-22. Retrieved from

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