In January of 2002, Bryn Mawr College officially merged the library and computing services departments into a single department later to be named Information Services. The department, in the hope of improving services to the Bryn Mawr community, underwent a significant reorganization of its structure. As the two year anniversary of the reorganization approached, Information Services wanted to assess whether the reorganization had improved its services to the community. Information Services staff decided that a survey of the community would play a major role in the assessment process.
Finding a preexisting survey that would cover the wide range of services provided by Information Services proved to be quite difficult and the organization decided to create a custom survey. A team of Information Services staff members, including an on-staff expert in the field of survey methodology and statistics, crafted one survey instrument for each of the major clients the department served: faculty, students, and staff. The survey was launched late in Spring 2004. Its results greatly aided the department in identifying areas in which services could be improved.
Elliott Shore, Bryn Mawr College’s CIO at the time, told many of his fellow CIO’s in the Council for Library and Information Resources about this process. Several expressed great interest in the survey and requested copies for use at their own institutions. As Elliott discussed this development with his survey team, it became clear there was a golden opportunity to do something bigger and in the process aid the schools far more than could be done by just sharing the Bryn Mawr instruments. The CLIR CIOs decided that in order to gather the most useful information, a common survey should be employed across many campuses. This would allow each school to learn from the survey data gathered on its campus and also compare itself to a group of peer institutions. In addition, by conducting the survey each year, each institution would be able to evaluate its services over time.
A handful of other schools were invited to participate in the process of re-crafting the Bryn Mawr survey instruments to make them fit multiple institutions. Bates College, Middlebury College, University of Richmond, and Wellesley graciously agreed to donate a significant amount of a top manager’s time toward the project. In January of 2005, the team members met for the first time at Bryn Mawr College to begin this process. During the spring and summer of 2005, the MISO survey team prepared the survey instrument. Their five institutions participated in a pilot of the survey in Fall 2005. Additional schools have administered the MISO survey each Spring from 2006 to present. Most MISO schools survey their campus populations on a regular schedule providing them with longitudinal data which offers important insights.
The MISO survey team has changed since its inception and is now composed of members from Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Longsight Inc., Union College, University of Richmond, and Willamette University.