Library Impact Research Report: Impact of Archival Collections and Services on the Western University Department of History

Tom Belton, University of Western Ontario
Amanda Jamieson, Western University
Anne Quirk, Western University
Amanda Oliver, Wilfrid Laurier University


The investigating archivists wanted to understand the impact of archival collections and related services on teaching and research in Western University’s Department of History. Moreover, the investigators aimed to learn more about the variability of that impact within the department to identify opportunities for improvement. The archivists hypothesized that Western’s archival collections and services had a notable impact across the department’s teaching and research needs. We investigated impact by analyzing survey results from faculty and students associated with Western’s Department of History, visitor usage and instruction statistics, and completing a citation analysis. This user-centered approach provided opportunities to assess the impact of Western’s archives from a variety of perspectives and outputs. This study found that Western’s archives has an inconsistent impact across the Department of History. The impact was not as significant or notable as we hypothesized. The survey responses and other data revealed that there is a low level of engagement with faculty and students with little to no growth over the years. The methods utilized in this study could be duplicated to measure impact at similar academic institutions. It provides guidance on how to use both internally maintained user data and user reporting to create a fulsome picture of impact.