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Frequently Asked Questions About ALLStAR 

Below is a compilation of common questions received from ALLStAR participants, with a particular focus on the ALLStAR Official Survey (AOS).

These FAQs are also available as a searchable, downloadable PDF.  The document also includes a clickable table of contents that allows users to jump to pertinent sections. 

On This Page

General Questions about ALLStAR & ALLStAR Official Survey

Surveys Included in the ALLStAR Official Survey (AOS)

What surveys are included in the ALLStAR Official Survey (AOS)?

The ALLStAR Official Survey (AOS) combines the questions from six sources: the discontinued Law Library section of the American Bar Association (ABA) Survey; Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) survey; Association of Research Libraries (ARL) survey; The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) questions; The US News survey; and a brief set of questions about current issues/trends facing academic law libraries.

ALLStAR Official Survey vs. ALLStAR Official Collection (AOS vs. AOC)

What is the difference between the AOS and the AOC?

There is no difference between the AOS and the AOC. We referred to the AOS as we developed the instrument and in subsequent communications with ALLStAR participants. Counting Opinions, which hosts ALLStAR on their LibPas product, calls surveys collections, hence, the use of the additional name AOC.

Accessibility/Section 508 Compliance

Is ALLStAR compliant with Section 508?

Yes, Counting Opinion’s VPAT: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template can be found here.

Hierarchy of Included National Surveys

What is the hierarchy of surveys of the national surveys when using the ALLStAR Official Survey?

The survey hierarchy from highest to lowest is: (1) ABA, (2) ARL, (3) US News, and (4) ACRL.

Sharing the Data

Under what circumstances will you send ALLStAR data to other entities?

We do not send ALLStAR data unless it is requested. Specifically, the responses to ACRL questions on the AOS can be transferred by Counting Opinions to the ACRL annual survey since they administer both surveys.  This is done if the law library requests that the data transfer happens. If a non-ARL library answers ARL questions, their data is not included in an ALLStAR report for ARL law libraries.

Data Management Tools

Are there any tools from ALLStAR that help track data over the year, so they are in one system when it is time to enter the data into ALLStAR? Or do we need to create our own tracking tools?

There are not any tracking tools in ALLStAR or any of Counting Opinions’ portals, currently. Each law library will want to develop their own systems and practices that best fit their library’s mission, operations, staffing, and budget.  If you need assistance brainstorming approaches or connecting with other law libraries to share ideas feel free to email the ALLStAR Project Manager.

Getting Started in ALLStAR

ALLStAR Login & User Access

Where do I login?

Login to ALLStAR via Counting Opinions.  Also, there is a link to login at the top of each ALLStAR-related page on the NELLCO website. Please make sure you navigate to the “Login to ALLStAR” link in the orange box and not the NELLCO membership login.

How can I change my username and/or password?

  1. Login onto your ALLStAR account with your current username and password.
  2. Click on “Profile” in the green bar on the top right of the screen.
  3. You can change your username and/or password. You may also change your email address or add additional information.
  4. Click on the “Update” button to save the changes.

How do I update employee information? I need to add and delete employees.

There are two options depending upon your level of access to ALLStAR (as evidenced by the menus you available after logging in to ALLStAR). 

Option #1:

  1. Logon to ALLStAR.
  2. If you see “Accounts” in the green bar near the top of the screen, click on “Accounts”. Your library should come up and you can edit accounts.

Option #2:

  1. Logon to ALLStAR.
  2. Click “Menu” in the blue bar.
  3. A small window opens. Click the “X” to the right of Menu to close the window.
  4. Then, you should see “Accounts” in the green bar.

If you click on the username under “Username,” it opens a small window and brings up the account. There is a “Remove” button near the bottom. You will be asked to confirm that you want to remove the account. Click “OK” and it will be removed. There is an “Add” button to add staff.

Entering Data into ALLStAR

Reporting Time Frame

What is the time frame for reporting?

Reporting is based upon your institution’s fiscal year. Please, do not use calendar year.

Data Sources

In many of the question lines there are parentheticals indicating where to locate the needed data (e.g., IPEDS, ARL). If there are multiple parentheticals, where is the best place to get the data? 

You can use any of the reports indicated as all identified reports are asking for the same data (i.e., all reports ask for the data in the same format with the same definition).

Data Level: Institution or Law Library

If a line does not have parentheticals indicating where to locate needed data, do I use institutional data?

Please use the data you have collected for your law library rather than your entire institution.  The exception would be if you are from a standalone law school.

Auto-Populating Survey Responses

Does completing the AOS auto-populate other surveys in ALLStAR such as ARL, US News, or ABA? Or is it just the other way around?

Data entered in the AOS auto-populates other surveys, as appropriate, when we run the populate program. Data that you enter directly into other surveys updates the related AOS response.

Do I need to enter all our ABA data into ALLStAR, or will it be transferred from the ABA? What about US News?

All of US News and most of ABA can be entered through the ALLStAR Official Collection. Some of the data reported in the law school’s ABA “Standard 509 Information Report,” also known as the “509 Required Disclosures,” are uploaded by NELLCO and Counting Opinions into ALLStAR when available.

Blank Responses

What should I do If I cannot answer a survey question because I do not have the data?

Leaving a question blank excludes your response in any calculations that draw from that question, such as calculated sums and derived ratios. Please consider submitting a 0 (zero) rather than leaving a response blank. If you need help on how to collect the data to answer, please email the NELLCO ALLStAR Project Manager.

Internal and Public Notes

How do we input notes that are only viewable internally?

Subscribers can add and/or review internal notes.

  1. Login to ALLStAR and click on the Data Input button.
  2. Click on a survey collection. For this example we are using the ALLStAR Official Survey.
  3. To add a note that is only viewable internally, click on the line number (indicated by the letter A on the left-hand side of the image below).
  4. A new window opens (see image below).

  5. Type text in the notes field (the red box in the image above). This Note field is an effective place to add notes for your colleagues (e.g., how the data was calculated).

How do we input notes that are publicly viewable?

Subscribers can add and/or review notes that will be viewable to all ALLStAR subscribers when they review the data via the Reports manager.

  1. Login to ALLStAR and click on the Data Input button.
  2. Click on a survey collection. For this example, we are using the ALLStAR Official Survey.
  3. To add a note that viewable to all subscribers, click on the Notes icon (the red box at the letter B in the image below).
  4. A new window opens (see image below).

  5. Type text in the Notes field (highlighted by the red box in the image above).

Saving and Submitting Data

Saving Data

What is the purpose of the Save button at the bottom of the page? As I input data I periodically hit Save; however, nothing seems to happen.

The Save button saves your data. You will not see changes on your screen, but the data was saved.

Is there an automatic save? If so, is it measured in time?

Data is saved automatically when you move from a field. It is recommended that people hit the Save button occasionally if they will be entering data for a while.

Review Function

What happens when you click the Review button?

The Review button displays the entire set of Performance Indicators (PIs). You can use this if you have clicked a group name in the left column to display only one group (e.g., 500. Services). 

Verify Function

What happens when we hit Verify at the top right of the page?

The Verify button verifies the data by processing automated edit checks. Edit checks are not currently embedded in the AOS.

Submitting and Locking Data

Once you hit Submit/Lock, can you change your data?

The Submit/Lock button locks your data and you will not be able to make edits. If you need it unlocked, please email Counting Opinions.


How long until the system times out when submitting data? Sometimes we must step away when we are submitting data and do not want to lose our work.

The timeout in all ALLStAR data collections, including the AOS, and reporting functions is 30 minutes. Please note that a web browser or workstation may time out sooner.

National Surveys

The ACRL Survey

Do we leave AOS questions blank that are from the ACRL survey since we do not participate in ACRL?

Yes, you can leave the ACRL questions blank.

What is the status of the inclusion of the ACRL annual survey as a separate collection in ALLStAR?

The ACRL annual survey is not currently available as a collection in ALLStAR. All ACRL survey questions, except the ACRL trend questions, are included in the AOS.

My library enters ACRL data (independent from the main university library) using a login that is different from our ALLStAR login. Can we enter this our ACRL data using our ALLStAR login to keep all data under the same account?

The ACRL survey was new to ALLStAR in the 2018-2019 data cycle and we are still designing the workflow. If you enter your ACRL data into ALLStAR, Counting Opinions will transfer your responses to the ACRL survey before it closes. However, if you wish to answer ACRL’s supplemental questions that needs to be done via the ACRL survey site.

It appears that the ACRL annual survey available through the ALLStAR portal includes survey questions from other national surveys. Should the ACRL responses be submitted through the ACRL survey or through the ALLStAR Official Survey?

The questions for the annual ACRL survey are now included in the ALLStAR Official Survey (AOS). It is strongly recommended that ALLStAR subscribers complete the ACRL survey through the AOS in the ALLStAR portal rather than through the ACRL data collection. This is because the AOS includes questions from other national surveys (e.g., ARL, US News, ABA) as well as the ACRL.

We responded to the ACRL Annual Survey via the AOS. Do we need to re-enter the data onto the ACRL Annual Survey, or can the ACRL data we provided on the AOS be uploaded to ACRL?

Please contact Counting Opinions for assistance. Counting Opinions can either (1) copy the data directly over to ACRL since both surveys use the LibPas platform or (2) create a report of your responses you can use to re-enter your data into the ACRL survey.

The ABA Survey

What is the status of the ABA survey for libraries?

The ABA stopped collecting law library data after the 2016 Fiscal Year. One of the reasons ALLStAR was created was to facilitate continued collection of and reporting on academic law library data.

It appears that not all ABA questions are included in the AOS. Is that so, and why?

That is correct; not all ABA questions are included in the ALLStAR Official Survey. The following ABA questions are not included: 7a, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20.

A working committee of the ALLStAR Advisory Board’s Content Committee reviewed the ABA questions. These ten ABA questions were not included because they did not fully align with the questions and data requests on the ARL, US News, and ACRL annual surveys. In addition, the committee concluded that ABA question 7a regarding interlibrary loan was poorly worded.  A pdf of the committee’s work reviewing the alignment of ABA questions to the AOS is available here.

We like the ABA’s questions and want to answer all of them. How do we approach this with the AOS?

Most of the ABA’s questions are included in the AOS. However, you may continue to submit additional data through the ABA collection in the ALLStAR portal. The ABA questions that are included in the AOS will automatically populate into the AOS. We recommend then going into the AOS collection and submitting responses to the additional that are not ABA-aligned (e.g., US News, ARL) after you complete the ABA collection. Completing the AOS, ABA, and US News collections provide the data found in the legacy survey collections.

What data from the ABA was loaded into ALLStAR by NELLCO/Counting Opinions?

The following data were pulled from the ABA and loaded into ALLStAR:

  • Faculty and Administrators: Faculty and Administrators Total; Full-Time Faculty Total; Non-Full-Time Faculty; Total Faculty; Full-Time Librarians; Part-Time Librarians; Total Librarians; Full-Time Administrators; Part-Time Administrators; and Total Administrators
  • Student Enrollment (Current Academic Year): Total Number of JD Students (FT and PT Combined); and Total Number of JD Degrees Awarded in Reporting Year
  • Curriculum (Prior Year): Number of Positions Available in Simulation Courses; and Number of Clinic Seats Available in Faculty Supervised Law Clinics
  • LSAT: 75th Percentile LSAT; 50th Percentile LSAT; 25th Percentile LSAT; and # Not Included in LSAT Calculations

The ARL Survey

How should ARL libraries approach entering data?

The AOS includes all ARL survey questions. If you complete the entire AOS, your data will cross-populate into the ARL data collection to use for reporting. An alternative approach for ARL libraries, that requires more data entry, would be to first complete the ARL data collection, followed by the AOS data collection, then the US News survey, and finally the ABA survey.

Please note, NELLCO and Counting Opinions upload data from ARL into ALLStAR when it becomes available directly from ARL (usually in March). However, if you enter data into the AOS or the ARL collection via ALLStAR, participants will have access to the ARL data significantly earlier.

If we are not an ARL library, can we manually input data into the ALLStAR Official Survey?

If you are not an ARL library, you can still use the AOS. There are additional valuable questions including questions from the ABA, ACRL, and US News surveys.

US News Rankings

Are the US News rankings for law schools available in ALLStAR?

Yes. The law school rankings back to 2011-2012 are found in the US News collection. We appreciate Rick Buckingham’s help with compiling the data for upload into ALLStAR.

Section-Specific Questions

Section 100. Personnel - FTE, Headcount, and Hours

Do we report personnel by position classification or education level? For example, how are graduate-degreed librarians working in staff positions reported? Are they librarians or other professional staff?

Report full-time equivalents (FTEs) by position/personnel classifications identified in the library budget. For example, a person with a library science graduate degree in a position classified by the institution/law school as a staff position would be reported as “other paid staff.”

Section 200. Expenditures, Personnel

Do you want the annual expenditure or monthly expenditures?

Expenditures, including salaries, are requested based on the library’s annual fiscal year.

Section 250. Fringe Benefits

What is the difference between Lines 252 and 253 if the library pays librarian, professional staff, and support/classified staff benefits?

If you answered yes to Line 251, please fill in Line 252 with the amount reported as the actual expenditure from your library’s budget. You then skip line 253.

If you answered no to Line 251, please fill in line 253 with “an estimate using the institution's official designated percent for your estimation” (per ARL instructions). You would skip line 252.

Section 300. Expenditures, Non-Personnel and Section 400. Collections

In reference to Lines 312, 322, 323. 412, 431, 436, 442, and 457: We get a lot of our content from main campus. If we exclude it, it looks like we have nothing.  However, including it makes it hard to determine what percentage is relevant to law. What do we really want to measure?

We want to measure the law library’s expenditures to acquire and support its collection.

Section 410. Titles Held

Regarding Line 411, does this mean that a supplement to a code volume (pocket part got too large) would be counted as a separate book in print?

Yes, that would count as a volume.

Section 410. Titles Held vs. Section 430. E-Books Volumes

Could you help me differentiate between Lines 412 and 431? Are they duplicative?

Line 412, which aligns with ACRL and US News, is an e-book title count only. Line 431 is a subset of Line 421, as it is an e-book volume count.

Section 510. Circulation/Usage

Regarding Line 512, we have many circulating items that are not electronic equipment or computers. However, these items are not "books, media, and serials" (e.g., board games, book stands, markers, study room keys). I am inclined to count these things as they are heavily used and require staff time to maintain. Can they be explicitly included or excluded from the ACRL definitions?

If an item is not explicitly excluded, please count the items and report initial circulation.

Section 520. Use of Electronic Resources

We are working on the ACRL statistics for Line 527 E-serials usage. What is counted here and how is it counted? It seems there are many different possible answers.

Definitions and guidelines for answering most AOS questions can be accessed by clicking the blue line number (highlighted in red box in image below). A new window with instructions will then open. These are the guidelines for Line 527.

  • Include usage for all e-serials, even if the title was purchased as part of a database.
  • When possible, record usage at the article level. The most relevant COUNTER report is JR1 (which includes any use in JR1GOA and JR1a reports).
  • In cases where vendors do not provide COUNTER reports, libraries may report using other means for monitoring digital/electronic circulation/usage (downloads, session views, transaction logs, etc.), or report zero.
  • Viewing a document is defined as having the full text of a digital document or electronic resource downloaded. [NISO Z39.7-2013, section 7.7]
  • If available, include the count for open access e-journal usage if the title is accessible through the library’s catalog or discovery system.
  • An electronic resource management system (ERMS) and/or a usage consolidation service may be helpful for collecting e-serial usage statistics.
  • Libraries may need to ask vendors for e-serial usage reports; reports may not be delivered automatically or in easily understood formats by the vendor to the library.

There are challenges gathering these statistics from non-COUNTER-compliant systems. In addition, the shared, campus-wide wireless network makes it impossible to determine who is reading an e-book and if they should be counted, particularly considering the goal of reader confidentiality.

These are logical concerns and challenges and they are probably shared by other libraries.  We recommend that you add an internal or public note to your entry clarifying what is and is not included in your response and the constraints your law library faces with e-resources usage. Instructions on how to enter internal and public notes can be found above. 

Section 530. Reference

For Line 536 (ARL Q16) total reference transactions is reported. The ACRL survey asks us to disaggregate our data and report number of virtual reference transactions (Line 533). Unfortunately, we do not track how transactions are conducted, only the initial contact method. We would only be able to estimate this by counting the number of emails to the reference desk email with the assumption that these emails are solely completed online. Should we not respond for this year? Or, should we report what we have and make a note about our approach to estimation?

ACRL began collecting virtual reference because it was believed that the number of libraries conducting reference via chat, email, etc. was increasing. ACRL wanted to know this figure to try and understand trends in virtual reference. You can always wait until next year to report.

Should virtual reference transactions be included in the response to Line 531 Transactions even though Line 533 specifically asks the library to report virtual reference transactions?

Yes, enter all types of reference transactions in Line 531, including the number of virtual reference transactions. Line 533 is for information purposes; the data submitted on this line is not summed elsewhere (such as Lines 534 and 535) in the AOS. Librarians have sought to learn about the ratio (percentage) of virtual reference transactions to all reference transactions, and to learn if there is a discernible decrease or increase of virtual reference transactions over time.

Should Line 532 Consultations count meetings with students in credit-bearing courses the library teaches? When teaching a research course, we regularly share the same information that we give at the reference desk when helping somebody with a paper.

If you are answering research/library questions outside of the classroom, regardless of if the questioner is a student in your class, the consultation should be counted.

Section 550. Presentations/Instruction

How should we report the following? A series of bibliographic instruction modules for a fully online course were created. The instructional designer and professor required that each module include questions and answers via playposit to ensure that students watch the entire video. Does that count as a class visit each time, counting the students each time there is a different session? Or does it count as a training session each time, but only count the students present one time? Or does it not count because the playposit questions turn it into a tutorial?

These are presentations to be reported on AOS Line 552. Is the library involved in each session as the instructional designer, the professor, or the question/answer provider? If yes, that is one presentation. Next, are the questions/answers different for each of the online sessions? If yes, then each is a different presentation. Therefore, the number of presentations would equal the number of different modules for which the library contributed content that are used in the course.

The attendance at these presentations would be reported on AOS line 561. The instructions for this line ask that “the total number of persons virtually attending or served by those presentations” be reported. “For multi-session classes, count each person only once regardless of the number of sessions attended if possible/feasible.” This specific example would be characterized as a multi-session class. Therefore, the number of students in the online course would be counted once.

Section 580. Hours and Weeks Open

We are trying to answer Line 581 Number of hours per week library is open - regular schedule and Line 582 Number of hours per week library is open - abbreviated schedule. We provide 24/7 access for law students but close the library to the general public at 9:00 pm during the semester and at 6:00 pm during the summer and winter breaks. Should "schedule" be thought of from the 24/7 point of view or from the view of serving the general public? The answer varies significantly based on the definition.

The ALLStAR Advisory Board reviewed this question. While the definitions for these lines remain unchanged, a new performance indicator (Line 585) was added.  This is a “yes or no” question where you can indicate that there are times in which the law library may be unstaffed, but the law library’s space is available for use to members of the law school community.

Section 600. Interlibrary Loan

For those of you with a main campus with ILLIAD/ILL and law ILL, are you reporting total ILL from the law collection and to all law patrons? Or are you reporting just those that go through the law school’s ILL? The former better reflects the intellectual activity of the institution and the utility of the collection for outside libraries, but the latter better reflects the law library’s ILL workload. This is further complicated by cross-campus and consortial borrowing that do not go through ILL.

The AOS instructions for Line 630 (ILL-Total number of filled requests received from other libraries) that transactions between libraries at your institution not be included. Since this survey is intended for academic law libraries, reporting the data as much as possible just for these law libraries increases the data’s effectiveness for benchmarking studies and other research.

The ILL questions on the AOS seem to only ask for borrowing and not lending data. Is this correct?

Yes, if you are referring to Line 630 (ILL-Total number of filled requests received from other libraries) from the ARL, ACRL, and ABA surveys. Please note, that the ALLStAR Advisory Board eliminated ABA Q7a because it was confusing. The AOS question regarding lending data appears on Line 620 (Total number of filled requests provided to other libraries (loaned)) from ARL, ACRL, and IPEDS.

Reports and Data Interpretation

Derived Ratios

Are there any calculations in the AOS besides “calculated sums” that facilitate data review?

Yes. ALLStAR includes about 100 derived ratios. A derived ratio is a performance indicator divided by another performance indicator to yield a ratio or a percentage. Example derived ratios in the AOS are the number of reference transactions per full-time student and the percentage of expenditures for collection support of total library expenditures.

Data Used in Survey Reports

When are the data used in the ALLStAR Official Survey updated for the reports?

The reports are re-run or updated at the beginning of each month.

Outcomes Measurement

Can ALLStAR be used to measure outcomes?

ALLStAR includes input and output measures. It is not an outcomes measurement tool by most definitions applied in the library science or education literature. However, there are outcomes measurement tools available for the academic library community.

In 2019 ACRL introduced “Project Outcome: Measuring the True Impact of Libraries,”  an online toolkit to help libraries understand and discuss their programs’ and services’ impact by measuring and analyzing outcomes. While you need to sign up for an account, Project Outcome’s resources are free for academic and research libraries. Sample resources include What Is Outcome Measurement? which discusses the importance of need assessment, output, outcome, and patron satisfaction. There is also a recording of an August 2019 presentation, ACRL Project Outcome: Assessing the Learning Outcomes of Library Instruction, by Eric Ackermann and Sara Goek. 

The Private Academic Library Network Inc (PALNI) collaborated with The IDEA Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning in higher education, to create a free assessment survey focused on the educational role and institutional effectiveness of libraries.


NELLCO is a consortium of law libraries collaborating to maximize access to services and resources and to develop, evaluate, and implement innovative programs for the benefit of the members.

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