ASERL statistics, part 2
The average number of reference transactions among ASERL libraries declined almost 60% between 2000 and 2012. This decline in absolute transaction counts is startling enough, but when we divide transaction totals by student enrollment, the average per student is down 70%, clearly an emphatic change in both student and library behavior. A casual observer would naturally conclude that our reference function is obsolete.
Instead, it is the reference transaction count that is obsolete. It is dangerously misleading and should be replaced by measures that better reflect the evolved nature of the library’s information mediation and pedagogical function. This will be difficult, because modern practice has made this function more complex, more demanding, and in every way less countable than it once was. In this we at least have the consolation of having good company: ours is the same "how do we measure learning" problem faced by teaching faculty.