The University of Wollongong (UOW) has undertaken an innovative and collaborative research project to demonstrate the value that can be provided by academic libraries. The tool developed, the “Library Cube”, is a data warehouse linking student borrowing and use of electronic resources to students’ academic grades and demographic information. The project is different to other institutions’ efforts to link usage to student outcomes, in that the Library Cube is not a one-off research project, but is now an ongoing part of UOW’s systems and performance reporting and represents a fundamental shift in evaluating the student experience through the integration of discrete systems and datasets.
The Library Cube demonstrates a new direction for evidence-based research. Analysis enabled through the Cube has revealed a very strong relationship between library usage and students’ academic performance. This information will improve UOW Library’s ability to demonstrate value to clients and stakeholders. The Library Cube has also delivered some anticipated and unexpected findings on the relationship between social variables (such as gender, age, and citizenship) and library usage behaviors; and in doing so has also identified potential target audiences for Library promotions and engagement strategies.