Research Agenda

Archival Metrics and User Evaluation for Governmental Archives
January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2010
Funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), this project seeks to promote the culture of assessment for our government repositories by creating standardized survey tools and other performance measures. By centralizing the development of these tools we will assist archivists and records managers overcome impediments to implementing assessment and improvement programs.

Our project will shoulder the research, design, testing, and dissemination of four instruments. These surveys will be freely available on a website along with implementation and analysis instructions. By creating valid and reliable instruments that measure what they are intended to measure, we enable archivists and managers to focus on accurate reporting of data, analysis of local success and failure, and implementing plans for improvement. Consistency and standardization in evaluative instruments also opens up the possibility of cross repository comparison.

Work in this phase of the project builds on that done by this group with college and university archives. In the first stage of the grant, a panel of experts drawn from state, county and city repositories will meet in Ann Arbor to review the instruments developed for college and university archives, to set evaluation goals and identify which types of users and services are most important to assess in the context of governmental archives, and to discuss the iterative testing process and review expert commitments. This will be followed by interviews with archives users and managers and the development and testing of survey instruments.

Goals for this project include:

  1. A fully piloted set of four user-based evaluation toolkits
  2. A network of partners
  3. The beginning of impact measures for the field.
  4. Professional publication and presentation of research techniques and results
  5. Recommendations for a set of benchmarking performance measures for government archives