Service Learning Site Logo

Article summary: A rubric to assess service-learning support in academic libraries

Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2021

Libraries have been involved in service-learning for years through instruction for service-learning courses, displaying and archiving related course projects, and providing assistance in finding and conducting research necessary for community-based work. But it’s only recently been moving toward a more systematic and programmatic approach. One tool that can assist libraries is the Self-Assessment Rubric for Development of Service Learning Programs in Academic Libraries, developed by Katherine Kott.

The recent article I co-authored with SLL blog team members Maureen Barry, Jennifer Nutefall, and Olivia Ivey, titled Assessing service-learning programs in academic libraries: A rubric in action, unpacks the rubric, how libraries might use it, and how it could be adapted. Our article starts with a literature review describing the recent state of academic libraries supporting service-learning. It moves on to a description of how rubrics have been used in academia, with particular attention to program-level evaluation. We describe how rubrics have been used to assess program-level outcomes. Notably, we mention Furco’s “Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Service-Learning in Higher Education” and Kecskes’ “Creating Community-Engaged Departments: Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Community Engagement in Academic Departments”; both of these served as guides when Kott developed her tool for libraries. (Note that one appendix compares elements of the Furco, Kecskes, and Kott rubrics.)

We then unpack 2 authors’ implementations of Kott’s rubric. We provide suggestions for how to implement and potentially modify the rubric so it can be as useful as possible. Using the rubric means simply taking a quick snapshot of existing services; it is a structured opportunity to reflect on how to more explicitly connect those services with institutional strategic plans and priorities.

So will other libraries jump at the chance to evaluate the level of service-learning support they provide? Library workers are all doing so much just to keep our current services afloat and do “more with less”. But what’s important to note is that this isn’t about doing more. Many libraries already provide services for community engaged teaching and learning, whether it’s an explicit part of the library’s strategic plan or not. Kott’s rubric can serve as a tool to assess existing services and spur conversation about how to leverage current resources and staffing to better connect with and support institutional priorities.

I encourage any librarian interested in community engagement, especially service-learning, to talk with library colleagues about using the rubric. Let us know if you do and how it impacts your work!

A big shout-out to my co-authors as well as to Katherine Kott for allowing us to use and expand upon the rubric she developed. 


Furco, A. (2005). Self-Assessment rubric for the institutionalization of service-learning in higher education. In Sherril B. Gelmon, Sarena D. Seifer, J. Kauper-Brown, and M. Mikkelsen (Eds.), Building Capacity for Community Engagement: Institutional Self-Assessment, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

Kecskes, K. (2008). Creating community-engaged departments: Self-assessment rubric for the institutionalization of community engagement in academic departments. https:// Kecskes%202009-paginated.pdf

Kott, K. (2017). Self-assessment rubric for development of service learning programs in academic libraries. Katherine Kott Consulting. uploads/2017/01/Service-Learning-Rubric-01.24.pdf

Nutefall, J. E., Barry, M., Gruber, A.M., & Ivey, O. (2021). Assessing service-learning programs in academic libraries: A rubric in action. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 21(1).