During the past decade, many university faculty and students have changed the way they find and use information, getting what they need from online sources rather than visiting the library. This decline in the use of the physical library, combined with substantial investments in electronic information and stagnating university budgets, has led to a reappraisal of the role of the physical library in academic institutions. This contribution reviews the viability of academic branch libraries and examines efforts at the University of Washington to assess the physical library. A series of 20 performance measures was developed in four categories – use, primary user population, library dependency, and facility quality – to evaluate the viability of individual branch libraries and their potential for closure or merger with other libraries.
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