Case Studies: Examples of "ALLStAR to the Rescue"
Below are requests for assistance from Law Library directors around the country. ALLStAR was able to assist with each of the queries.
Question 01: Library Personnel
My dean wants to know the number of librarian FTEs in reference departments in the top 10 public law schools, and then compare raw figures, by faculty size and by student size.
It feels like this needs pieces of ARL, ABA, 509, and US News, but I cannot see how to get them all to come together within the ALLStAR reporting function, not to mention figuring out which librarians are considered ‘in reference’.
Result: ALLStAR was able to provide all the necessary information except the “Librarians in Reference” data, which is not collected in any national survey and, therefore, requires participating libraries to enter the data separately. This data is captured and rolled-up when institutions use the “Employee Questionnaire” or can be entered manually if the EQ is not employed.
Question 02: Need to make the case for an additional reference librarian
The Research Services department decided to convert a C&T (staff) position to an M&P (professional) position. The reference librarians had noticed increases in the volume of requests for assistance from clinics and centers, and felt stretched thin. We also knew that the law school was hiring four new faculty who would add to the liaison work of the department. The department felt and could express a greater need for an additional profession librarian rather than a paraprofessional, but ALLStAR enabled us to make a stronger case, supported by data.
RESULT: Using ALLStAR, we could track the number of Total Fall Faculty from the data collected for the ABA. We plotted the increase from FY2010-11 through FY2015-16 on a line graph to illustrate the dramatic increase over the last five years. We also pulled data that supported the sense we had that we were receiving more questions from clinics. Again, the ABA data for YLS showed that over the past five years there have been more seats in clinical classes and that those seats have been filled by more students.
Question 03: Benchmarking for number of staff and students
A library dean asked for two reports on the number of professional librarians, support staff and information technology staff, and for full-time and part-time students. One report would include just the law library's ten identified peers, and the second report would include all law libraries.
RESULT: ALLStAR was able to provide the necessary information. Two reports were run, one for the identified peers and the second for all ALLStAR libraries, including the following data points:
- Number (in FTEs) of full-time librarians including the Director
- Number (in FTEs) of part-time librarians
- Subtotal (in FTEs), librarians
- Total FTE (librarians. professional staff, other paid staff and student assistants)
- Number of IT staff (FTE)
- Total full time JD students
- % of students that are full time
- Total part time JD students
- % of students that are part time
- Total number of JD students (full time and part time combined)
Question 04, Example 2: Benchmarking for number of staff and students
A law school dean asked for the number of professional librarians, support staff and IT staff for their identified peer institutions, and for all law libraries. The library also asked for the number of student FTEs and broken down by full-time and part-time students if possible.
RESULT: ALLStAR was able to provide the requested information. Reports were run for the identified institutional peers, and for all law libraries. The data points included in the reports:
- Number (in FTEs) of full-time Librarians including the Director
- Number (in FTEs) of part-time librarians (ABA Q1)
- AOS Line 115 Subtotal (in FTEs), Librarians (ACRL Line 01 Column A)
- AOS Line 151 Total FTE (librarians, professional staff, other paid staff and student assistants) (ARL Q13) (ACRL Line 06 Column A)
- AOS Line 152 How many IT staff (in FTE) are included in the above TOTAL FTE count?
- Number of IT Staff (FTE) (ABA Q23) (USNews Q65)
- Total Number of JD Students (FT and PT Combined)
It was noted that the ABA no longer breaks out students by PT and FT as they had in the past;
- Total Full Time JD Students
- % of Students that are FT
- Total Part Time JD Students
- % of Students that are PT
the total number of JD students is still available from the ABA.
Today a claim was made that the budget cuts suffered by my library in the past year(s) is typical and "below average." I confess I was at a loss to counter this accusation.
I'm hoping to discover:
- % change year / year past three years
- Per FTE
- By Collection budget (TOTAL)
- By Personnel budget (TOTAL)
- By Law Librarian budget (TOTAL)
Result: ALLStAR contains budget data from the ABA Annual Questionnaire preloaded for 2013-16. ARL budgetary information is pre-loaded for 2009-16. Any of this data can be exported to a spreadsheet for further analysis. Additionally, we can create permanent derivations within ALLStAR to help us quickly breakdown data and arrive at commonly requested rations. For example, we recently created within ALLStAR the derivation that produces the Library Collections $ / student.
Budget and Student data
If it is not too much trouble, could you please let me know what you reported to the ABA for the FALL 2016 ABA form for the following:
(11a) Paper serial subscriptions
(12a) Paper monographs
(13a) Digital materials purchased
(13b) Digital materials licensed
In addition, since the way the ABA distributes the information is so scattered, could you please let me know your current FTE JDs and FTE LLMs?
Result: This query can be fully answered in ALLStAR. All 2016 ABA data is uploaded as well as JD and graduate law student data from the ABA 509 reports. This report took only a few minutes to create and share. Further, a derivation for library budget/ student FTE was created in ALLStAR as a result of this query.
Facility / Space
Question 01: Library square footage
My Dean wants to know how our library compares to other academic law libraries in terms of their total physical space. There may be an effort to re-purpose our student-centered library space.
Result: Library square footage was a question asked on the ABA Annual Questionnaire. The AQ for libraries doesn’t exist any longer – but ALLStAR has data. A trend report was created in ALLStAR displaying the reported square footage data for 200+ law libraries in FY2016. FY2017 data was also included in this report. However, the FY2017 data was less useful because fewer libraries entered their data into ALLStAR's 2017 ABA collection. This data gap is illustrative of the need for all libraries to annually enter data into the ABA collection - you never know when you are going to need it.
ALLStAR was very helpful in answering the question our dean asked. He wanted to know the ratio of librarians / library staff to student and faculty over the last 10 years for us and our competitors/aspirant schools. And naturally it was due the day before he asked. My only feedback would be that it was a bummer all 10 years of ABA data isn’t in yet but when it was it was fantastic. It saved us loads of time. I also didn't find the system as intuitive as I expected but the trainings in March  will help with that. It was very straightforward once I got the hang of it. The key is knowing the system when you’re not under pressure.
Response: It is indeed a bummer that ABA data only goes back to the 2013 Annual Questionnaire. Prior to 2013, the data is only available in PDF which cannot be mass uploaded into ALLStAR. Multiple requests for library data pre-2013 in excel have gone unanswered.
Supporting ABA Site Visits
Can ALLStAR help a library prepare for an ABA site visit?
Response: ALLStAR can help with the preparation and presentation of data prior to an ABA site visit. While benchmarking is often associated with ALLStAR, this platform can also serve as one of your library’s critical data repositories for performance indicators including input and output measures. Data can be entered locally for each annual year which then, after entering for two or more years, will be useful for trend analysis. Reports can be run on aggregated data as well as on user-selected measures such as expenditures, personnel, collections and services. Graphs and charts are also available to visually illustrate submitted data. “Canned reports” are created annually by Counting Opinion (ALLStAR’s data service provider) to save subscribers time when creating reports, and to facilitate imagining the creation of customized reports. And, true to its namesake, ALLStAR can be used for peer benchmarking as well as identifying best practices in academic law libraries.
Here are a couple of selected suggestions for applying ALLStAR to report data as requested by the American Bar Association based upon their Standards for Libraries and their site report and template guidelines [American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Office of the Managing Director on Legal Education. Site Report Template and Instructions. 2019-2020. Pages 30 - 31].
Standard 601. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Assessment, Standard 601(a)(3)
Working with the dean and faculty, [the law library] engages in a regular planning and assessment process, including assessment of the effectiveness of the library in achieving its mission and realizing its established goals.
[Note: The Self-Study/SEQ completed by the School may reflect the previous version of the Standard that required a written assessment. Because the revised Standard is more lenient (requiring only assessment, not necessarily a written assessment), Schools will be evaluated this year under the revised Standard.]
ALLStAR is often associated for collecting and reporting library input and output performance indicators. The very practice of using ALLStAR affects effectiveness -- the library is collecting and reporting data annually which is then applied to report its progress for achieving stated objectives found in the school’s and library’s strategic plan. Additionally, the review and analysis of the data informs library decision-making which is intended to increase effectiveness.
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- report outputs from ALLStAR to compare and illustrate how to the library is progressing towards meeting its identified strategic objectives. For example, if the library has an objective to increase the number of hours the library is open for its users, state the number of hours open as reported in ALLStAR to illustrate the library’s annual progress towards meeting that objective
- deploy assessment tools (user surveys, etc.) from ACRL’s Project Outcome for Academic Libraries and from the Private Academic Library Network Inc. (PALNI)
- Counting Opinion’s LibSat is a continuous customer satisfaction survey which is applicable to library assessment efforts.
Financial, Standard 601(b)
A law school shall provide on a consistent basis sufficient financial resources to the law library
to enable it to fulfill its responsibilities of support to the law school and realize its established
If there are concerns raised in the materials or during the site visit, provide additional information as to how the library has not been able to provide faculty or students with resources or services necessary to support the Law School’s teaching and research roles. [Note: It is not appropriate to base a determination of lack of adequate support solely on comparison to expenditures by other institutions, and it is inappropriate to include such comparisons.]
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- aggregated and selected expenditures, such as information resources and collections, personnel, and other direct expenditures, by year, and trended over a number of years
- derived ratios in ALLStAR which measures the ratio of expenditures for collections, personnel and other direct costs to total library expenditures. These derived ratios can also be used in trend analysis.
- an annual analysis of specific expenditures, such as amounts expended on print resources compared to e-resources, or to compare personnel to total expenditures, by year, and then trended over a number of years
- expenditures benchmarking with peer institutions.
Please note that the italicized guidance above from ABA’s site report template and instructions states it is inappropriate to benchmark expenditures with other institutions as the sole basis of “sufficient” financial support. However, peer benchmarking is acceptable if it is accompanied with other library-internal data measures such as those mentioned above.
Standard 604. PERSONNEL
The law library shall have a staff sufficient in expertise and number to provide the appropriate
library and information resources services to the school. [Note: It is not appropriate to base a determination of lack of adequate staffing solely on comparison to the levels of staffing found at other institutions, and it is inappropriate to include such comparisons.]
Factors relevant to the number and expertise of librarians and information resource staff needed to meet this Standard include the number of faculty and students, research programs of faculty and students, whether there is a dual division program in the school, any graduate programs of the school, size and growth rate of the collection, range of services offered by the staff, formal teaching assignments of staff members, and responsibilities for providing information resource services.
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- number of total library personnel reported as full-time equivalents and as headcounts, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of library personnel classified as professional staff; support staff; and information technology staff, reported as full-time equivalents and as headcounts, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of student assistants reported as full-time equivalents, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of degreed personnel: college degrees; number of personnel with ALA-accredited master’s degrees; number of personnel with other master’s degrees; and number of personnel with law degrees
- ABA’s number of law school students reported as full-time equivalents and as headcounts
- a derived ratio of number of library personnel to number of students (library personnel per student FTE, etc.), by year, and then trended over the years
- a derived ratio of library personnel with ALA-accredited degrees to number of students (professional library personnel per student FTE, etc.), by year, and then trended over the years
- a derived ratio of library personnel with law degrees to number of students (law-degreed personnel per student FTE, etc.), by year, and then trended over the years
- number of titles in the collection, by format (e.g., monograph, serial, media, print, e-resource), by year, and then trended over the years [see also Standard 606. Collection]
- number of library personnel’s formal teaching assignments (e.g., formal courses each year; co-teaching a formal course with a faculty member of record)
- number of library personnel’s informal teaching responsibilities (number of instruction sessions each year). [see also Standard 605. Services]
Standard 605. SERVICES
A law library shall provide the appropriate range and depth of reference, instructional,
bibliographic, and other services to meet the needs of the law school’s teaching, scholarship, research, and service programs.
Factors relevant to determining whether services are appropriate under Standard 605 include the extent to which services enhance the research and bibliographic and information literacy skills of students, provide access (such as indexing, cataloging, and development of search terms and methodologies) to the library’s collection and other information resources, offer interlibrary loan and other forms of document delivery, produce library publications and manage the library’s web site, and create other services to enable the law school to carry out its program of legal education and accomplish its mission.
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- number of hours the library is open during a typical week, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of hours per week professional staff are on duty, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of hours per week support staff are on duty, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of hours reference services are provided, by year, and then trended over the years
- total gate count, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of reference transactions, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of consultations with students, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of presentations conducted by library personnel, by year, and then trended over the years
- total attendance at the presentations, by year, and then trended over the years
- derived ratio of the percentage of students attending presentations, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of publications written by library personnel to guide students to use library resources.
Standard 606. COLLECTION
Standard 606(a), Core Collection
The law library shall provide a core collection of essential materials through ownership or
reliable access. The choice of format and of ownership in the library or a particular means of
reliable access for any type of material in the collection, including the core collection, shall
effectively support the law school’s curricular, scholarly, and service programs and objectives,
and the role of the library in preparing students for effective, ethical, and responsible
participation in the legal profession.
Standard 606(c), in addition to the core collection
In addition to the core collection of essential materials, a law library shall also provide a
collection that, through ownership or reliable access,
(1) meets the research needs of the law school’s students, satisfies the demands of the law school curriculum, and facilitates the education of its students;
(2) supports the teaching, scholarship, research, and service interests of the faculty;
(3) serves the law school’s special teaching, scholarship, research, and service objectives; and
(4) is complete, current, and in sufficient quantity or with sufficient continuing access to meet faculty and student needs.
Standard 606(e), space and equipment
The law library shall provide suitable space and adequate equipment to access and use all
information in whatever formats are represented in the collection.
The appropriate mixture of collection formats depends on the needs of the library and the law school. A collection that consists of a single format may violate Standard 606.
Reliable access to information resources may be provided through:
(a) databases to which the library or the parent institution subscribe or own and are likely to continue to subscribe and provide access;
(b) authenticated and credible databases that are available to the public at no charge and are likely to continue to be available to the public at no charge; or
(c) participation in a formal resource-sharing arrangement through which materials are made available, via electronic or physical delivery, to users within a reasonable time.
Off-site storage for non-essential material does not violate the Standards so long as the material is organized and readily accessible in a timely manner.
Cooperative agreements may be considered when determining whether faculty and students have efficient and effective access to the resources necessary to enable the law school to carry out its program of legal education and accomplish its mission. Standard 606 is not satisfied solely by arranging for students and faculty to have access to other law libraries within the region.
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- total number of titles held, by resource type (e.g., monographs, serials, media) and format (print, digital, media and microform), by year, and then trended over the years
- number of databases, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of volumes or titles stored off-site, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of items contributed to the institution’s repository (e.g., Digital Commons), by year, and then trended over the years
- total number of filled requests loaned to other libraries (indirect indication of the library’s collection strength), by year, and then trended over the years
- total number of filled requests received from other libraries (indirect indication of collection strength), by year, and then trended over the years
- number of initial circulations, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of successful full-text article requests, by year, and then trended over the years
- number of the library’s existing formal resource-sharing arrangements.
Standard 702. FACILITIES
(a) A law school’s facilities shall include:
(2) a law library that is suitable and sufficient in size, location, and design in relation to the
law school’s programs and enrollment to accommodate the needs of the law school’s
students and faculty and the law library’s services, collections, staff, operations, and
Suggestions from ALLStAR:
- net square footage of space assigned for library purposes
- net square footage assigned to support library personnel responsibilities
- net square footage available to support services to users (e.g., public service areas, study areas, stacks)
- ratio of net square footage available to support services to users to net square footage of space assigned for library personnel responsibilities
- total number of seats available for library users
- derived ratio of the number of student FTE per seat (this yields a percentage of students who can be seated in the library concurrently).