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The Teaching and Learning Library


Association of College and Research Libraries. (2010). The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.  

Gilchrist, D., & Oakleaf, M. (2012). An Essential Partner: The Librarian’s Role in Student Learning Assessment . Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.


Laverty, C. (2013). Quality Assurance. Information Brief. Ontario College and University Library Association.

OCUL Spotdocs Quality Assurance and Learning Outcomes Working Group. Links to quality indicators, template for the library self-study, and examples of program review documents.Scroll down to the QAT Instructions for Preparing an Institution's Template for cyclical reviews of academic programs and new program proposals.


Ontario Colleges Quality Assurance Service . (2011). Colleges’ self-regulatory quality agency.


Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance. (2012). Quality Assurance Framework  | Webinars and Supporting Documents

Quality Assurance

This page addresses the evidence that the library must collect to meet standards set by the Ontario Quality Assurance Framework. Read on to identfy the data that we need to collect.

What is quality assurance?

Quality Assurance (QA) is the process by which existing and new post-secondary education programs in Ontario are evaluated against specific criteria. The Council of Ontario Universities set out to meet new international standards that called for the articulation of Degree Level Expectations (DLEs) and program learning outcomes.

A Quality Assurance Framework was prepared by the Quality Assurance Transition Implementation Task Force and the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents’ Executive Committee. It sets out the guidelines that every institution must follow to design and implement a quality assurance process that is consistent with its mission, its DLEs, and the protocols of the Framework. The Framework was formally approved in 2010 and the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance was established.

The Quality Council is at arm’s length from universities and government. Recommendations go from the individual university quality assurance committee (e.g. in the Office of the Provost) to the Quality Assurance Council to ensure that universities comply with quality assurance guidelines. The Quality Assurance Council communicates final decisions to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities where necessary.

How does it work?

Ontario colleges and universities are responsible for creating an Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) to meet the standards outlined in the Quality Assurance Framework. IQAPs are ratified by Quality Council and  include protocols for

·         New program approvals

·         Expedited approvals e.g. new field in a graduate program

·         Cyclical review of existing programs

·         Audit process i.e. compliance with IQAP and program review

There must be alignment between course and program learning outcomes, standards for professional programs, and institutional Degree Level Expectations (DLEs) which are set out in six broad categories:


Undergraduate DLEs

Graduate DLEs

Depth & Breadth of Knowledge

Knowledge of Methodologies

Application of Knowledge

Communication Skills

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge

Autonomy and Professional Capacity

Depth & Breadth of Knowledge

Research & Scholarship

Level of Application of Knowledge

Professional Capacity/Autonomy

Level of Communication Skills

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge



Who's doing it?

Academic departments must adhere to QA guidelines and develop learning outcomes for the DLEs. Each IQAP identifies committee representatives who support a departmental program review or new program proposal. Library members, probably a mix of unit heads, liaison librarians, and collection coordinators, will be asked to contribute information on behalf of the library.

Look for the IQAP on your university administration pages. It’s important to check the context in which the library is included in this document. At Queen’s we discovered that feedback on the library had originally been grouped with numerous resources minimizing the opportunity to describe library impact. Here’s how we changed the wording on Queen’s form for the cyclical program review. Every department is asked to comment on the role of the library.





Describe how the academic unit(s) has appropriately and effectively used existing human, physical, library and financial resources to deliver its program(s).





Describe and comment on how the academic unit(s) has used existing library services and resources which may include:  the liaison librarian for the department; library instruction; collection development; discipline-specific learning resources; reference support. [refer to full Library Report in Section 16]


Why is it significant?

Given the QAF, Library Self Study reports must now provide evidence to demonstrate how information literacy programs and library collections sustain and enhance the quality of student scholarship and learning. The OCUL Quality Assurance Working Group (2010) provides a list of suggested quality indicators and also recommends the types of data that provide evidence of quality

Recommended quality indicators relating to collections include:

·         Ways collections address the current state of the discipline or area of study

·         Identification of unique collection innovations or creative components

·         Appropriateness of the proposed methods for the assessment of collections

·         Completeness of plans for documenting and demonstrating the level of collection relevancy to students, consistent with the institution’s DLEs

·         Definition and use of indicators that provide evidence of quality of collections

Recommended quality indicators for information literacy program s include:

·         Appropriateness of methods for the assessment of student achievement of the intended program learning outcomes and DLEs

·         Completeness of plans for documenting and demonstrating the level of performance of students, consistent with the institution’s statement of its DLEs

What are the challenges?

Every academic department will be writing their program learning outcomes, especially as a cyclical program review approaches. Librarians who serve on departmental curriculum committees will have opportunities to formally integrate information literacy outcomes at the program level. Those who do not will miss a tremendous chance for partnership. Similarly, librarians who are already assessing collections and instruction are well-prepared to report on library impact. There will be a steep learning curve for those who do not have these strategies in place.

 What are the implications for libraries?

Since 2010, every publicly assisted Ontario university must adopt the Quality Assurance Framework including the library which is acknowledged as an academic service that affects program quality. Check the timelines for your departmental program reviews to gather and prepare the data needed for library reports. Colleges are also introducing a self-regulatory quality agency.

More than ever, librarians need to take a proactive role in partnering with curriculum committees in academic departments, establishing information literacy programs with clear learning oucomes and assessment strategies, and analysing library collections against rigorous criteria.

Questions for you:

Look for your institution's QA processes. Can you give input on the section on the library?

What is the impact on the library?

How do the degree level expectations relate to the ACRL information literacy standards?

What evidence will you write your library report for a cyclical review?

Recommendations for Engaging in the QA Process from Ontario Librarians

  • Connect with point people e.g. self study author, co-ordinator for review/campus QAF
  • Academic Planning Process – e.g. Curriculum committee positions and Accreditation committees for professional programs
  • Draft library part in advance and offer it to departments. Don’t wait to be asked
  • Include some LibQual general findings
  •  Align with stakeholders goals and speak their language (e.g. use outcome descriptors that are used by program not necessarily ACRL)
  • Tie what library does to university level intended learning outcomes i.e. how library supports development of information literacy
  • Leverage relationships with faculty before library self-study prepared to work on IL language and to draft a proposal for programmatic approach moving forward
  • Seek funding for innovative programs eg ebook readers
  • Value proposition – collections, materials, resources and databases
  • Liaison librarians: project to inventory classes taught, then map to DLEs (Brock)
  • Developing standard surveys for library instruction – assessment/feedback (Ryerson)
  • Internally (within library) develop common assessment methodologies (e.g. stats for writing centre and information literacy) goal – to be able to effectively demonstrate impact (Guelph)
  • Collaborate with educational developers who do curriculum mapping to develop a handout about library and how it fits into process (Ryerson)
  •  Library included in university orientation to IQAP for programs under review (Brock)

 Introduction to Queen's University QA

Queen's University Quality Assurance Processes (2010) | QUQAPs Introduction

Queen's Templates for academic reviews and new program proposals (2011)

Examples of program reviews from across the province are on the OCUL QA site. Queen's Library cyclical program reviews are also in QShare.