Yesterday I sent off the final report for the NCknows evaluation. This was my first big project as a faculty member, my first as a PI. And now it’s over, and I think successfully. Or, I should say, I consider it a success, and I think the NCknows folks do too. Though I would imagine for very different reasons. This project met several of my major goals in the Tenure Quest: (1) funding, (2) service to the state, a big deal here at Carolina, it being after all a state school, (3) establishing a good relationship with the local library community, and most importantly, (4) publications. Plus it demonstrates that I can bring in funding & manage a project, which I hope counts for something at tenure time.

It was also an interesting evaluation project. There was one major evaluation question for the project: is collaborative virtual reference an effective way to meet the information needs of North Carolinians? This is not the evaluation question I would have chosen, for at least 2 reasons: (1) define effective, and (2) only North Carolinians? But it was what was given to us by the original NCknows project plan, and you work with what you’ve got. Besides, I suppose that’s why projects hire evaluators, to tell them things like how to define effectiveness. For the curious, the answer to this question is yes. But there’s way more interesting stuff that we found too. All of our reports from the project are here.

A little background, for those of you who haven’t been keeping close tabs on my career for the past year (but I mean, what else could you possibly have been doing in that time?): NCknows is a statewide chat reference service, a collaborative of currently 18 libraries (soon to be more) around NC, both academic and public. Chuck McClure & I were contracted as the project evaluation team, & Lili Luo is a PhD student here who’s been working with us on this since it started. NCknows is currently in a pilot phase, which will end in June 2005. Thanks to the results of the evaluation (or partially thanks to it, anyway), NCknows will live to see another day, once the pilot is over.

Of course the folks at the SLNC will have comments & suggestions, & we’ll make edits to the final report, and then probably meet one more time to discuss the outcomes of the evaluation. So the project isn’t really done done. But then what is? He asked in a fit of metaphysicality. But for the moment, I’m feeling the unbearable lightness of being. Now that this big project is off my plate, I hardly know what to do with myself. Except, well, those 500 other things that have been piling up while I’ve been preparing this final report…