Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Measuring the Effect of Library Usage [Webinar]

Learn about how one university library measured the effects of first-time-college students’ library use on their success outcomes. Apply these same approaches to more confidently measure the effects of library programs on offender outcomes in correctional settings. Using Generalized Propensity Scoring (GPS) and/or Precision Matching (PM) you can hone in how your library program affected your participants and rule out other factors that may have affected the result. For example, you want to measure the effectiveness of a literacy program on preventing first-time offender recidivism while controlling for their background educational level and family income.

At FSU Libraries Propensity Score Matching and Precision Matching was applied to a longitudinal study measuring the effects of a library-intensive, freshman seminar on criminology and criminal justice students on student GPA and graduation rates. Since randomization of subjects was not possible, PSM was applied to the students who took the class with other criminology majors who did not. These two groups were matched precisely on a number of standard variables: demographics, income of parents, SAT/ACT scores, and other precollege variables, with current environmental variables such as whether they belonged to the first-generation college student program, etc. Once matched, these students were “tracked” and compared at the end of four years. Do the students who selected the course have a propensity toward selecting it, which is also known as selection bias, as a part of something inherent about them that is not measurable (i.e. better students tend to choose a class like this one)?

Recently, the library wanted to measure whether first-time in college students (FTICs) who frequent and stay for long blocks of time in the library have higher GPAs and retention rates at the end of their first year (an important metric for the university) than those FTIC who do not . To do this, we had to apply Generalized Propensity Scoring (GPS), which is an extension to Propensity Score Matching and Precision Matching, only it is used with continuous measures such as time (Hirano & Imbens, 2004), in other words, “for use with quantitative or continuous exposures (e.g., dose or quantity of medication, income, or years of education)” (Austin, 2017, 1874). GPS provides an estimation of how the dose or interventions of 1. length of stay and 2.number of visits increases GPA and retention rates over time past a certain threshold of time and visits.

Learn to apply a similar approach in a correctional setting.


Kirsten Kinsley is an Assessment Librarian at the Florida State University Libraries and a liaison with the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a co-liaison for the Department of Psychology and the College of Social Work. Kirsten completed her Master of Science in Library and Information Studies in 1999 and received a Master of Science and Specialist in Education degrees in Counseling and Human Systems in 1995 from the Florida State University. In 1989, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Honors. Ms. Kinsley previously worked for the FSU Career Center Library and Law Research Center and has been working in libraries on campus in various capacities since 1991. Kirsten seeks to foster and measure how the library through campus collaborations can contribute to student and faculty success.