What is Validation?

Confidence that retained titles will, in fact, be made available and usable across the EAST libraries is is critical to building trust among the Retention and Supporting Partners as well as local stakeholders.  

Validation efforts for shared print initiatives span a spectrum of goals with increasing levels of effort and cost:

  • Basic inventory confirmation – is the title actually on the shelf or otherwise accounted for?
  • Condition review  – is the physical volume in good enough condition to support ongoing use?
  • Bibliographic review – is the volume actually as described in the cataloging metadata? Note that the EAST validation study did NOT include bibliographic review.

With over 20 million holdings from Maine to Florida,  a complete item by item validation of the EAST member libraries’ collections was clearly impossible, both in terms of time and money.  However, with grant funding and support, EAST has developed a sample based approach to validation.  Two validation sample studies, the first conducted during a twelve week period in the spring of 2016 with the forty Cohort 1 libraries, and second with the twelve Cohort 2 libraries in the fall of 2017, focused on developing an "availability metric" for EAST retention partner libraries and investigating characteristics of the print collections such as age and usage that might impact the likelihood of a retained title to be accessible and in useable condition, and could influence the future development of retention models and programs.

EAST Validation Sample Study

Working with a statistical consultant Prof. Grant Ritter of Brandeis University and the EAST Validation Working Group,  the EAST team designed a sample-based validation study across the 52 EAST collection analysis participant libraries that:

  • Determined an “availability metric” for each of the libraries
  • Provided insight into the condition of titles at the libraries.

Using a random sample of 6,000 titles (determined to be statistically valid within a 1% margin of error assuming at least  90% availability at most libraries) drawn from the collection analysis data, each library used a data collection tool designed by the EAST Data Librarian to validate the presence of titles on the shelf and perform a cursory condition review of titles present.  The methodology for the availability check included an initial comparison of the sample data to the local library's circulation system to exclude items known to be not on shelf due to their circulation status.  Following this, each of the libraries sent workers to the stacks to "touch" the almost 6,000 titles in their local sample. The data collection tool provided an easy to use interface that required only that the worker scan the barcode on the item to account for its presence and perform a brief 3-point condition assessment of the physical item.  Note that this did NOT include a bibliographic review of the metadata to assure the item scanned matched the description on the catalog; as long as the barcode matched that of the catalog, an item was counted as present. Upon completion of a session in the stacks, the data were uploaded and made available immediately to the EAST project team allowing easy oversight of the data collection.

Each library was compensated for this work at a standard rate, paid for through grant funds.  This first cohort commenced the study in February, 2016 and was completed in late April 2016. The second cohort conducted the study during the fall of 2017.  Further information on the methodology and access to the open source tools used for Validation Sample Study are available on Github.  While staffing for the study varied from library to library, most used student workers to scan items in the stacks using the data collection tool.