How many times does a scholar have to browse the stacks for us to believe her when she says browsing is important to her? Is once a quarter enough? Once a month? Or must a scholar browse daily for us to believe her when she says being able to browse physical stacks is important to her research?
How many physical books does a scholar have to check out from the library for us to believer him when he says having books on campus matters to him?
How many in-person questions do our reference staff have to answer for us to consider staffing reference desks important?
How much content has to be deposited into our IRs for us to consider them a success?
How many times does a box of manuscripts have to be paged for us to consider it important enough to keep?
How many people have to use our Makerspaces to actually make something for us to consider it a good investment?
I’m not sure we (the royal we) have any fricking idea.
And yet I constantly hear some version of “scholars say ______ is important to them, but our data shows otherwise.” And most of the time, the data is on frequency of some activity. But frequency =/= importance.
I get it that we have hard decisions to make about priorities in the face of limited space and limited budgets, and we may well have to make decisions based on how often various services and resources actually get used.
But can we please stop saying something isn’t really important to scholars (even though they say it is, poor deluded souls) because they don’t do it often enough to meet our unspoken and shifting definition of what enough is? Pretty please?