Numbers speak volumes about CUL
As Central University Libraries' Director of Assessment, Zoltán Szentkirályi not only keeps track of long-term statistics to monitor trends over the years, but he also identifies new areas to analyze as user needs and library resources change.
The complex user-library network makes the job challenging, says Szentkirályi, who joined CUL in June 2012. "The reach of library operations is very broad, and the services we provide extend to a wide range of constituents through many modes of delivery, whether it is the physical space and collections in the library, personal interaction with librarians and staff, or online access."
CUL gathers many different measurements on a continuing basis – everything from the number of print and e-book volumes to library usage data such as e-journal article downloads, study-room bookings, research consultations and online searches via the Discover SMU search engine. "Developing efficient methods of archiving all this data is a key component of my job," he says.
The quantitative and qualitative data captured not only "inform decision-making," but they also "show the value that the libraries provide to the University," says Szentkirályi.
Since earning a master's degree in statistics from Ohio State University, he has been "drawn to fields in which I could learn about human behaviors and be involved in research that could benefit people in the long run."
He worked for the Nielsen TV ratings company in Chicago, the music industry in Los Angeles and Abbott Laboratories in Irving, Texas, before becoming a statistical consultant. "I focused on a number of interesting projects for Ph.D. candidates, which turns out to have been great preparation for my current job," he says.
When he is not poring over library statistics, Szentkirályi enjoys spending time with his five-year-old son, John Lazarus, and occasionally playing drums for 508 Park Ave., an instrumental jazz funk band.
"My dad named me after the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály," he says, "and I aspire to develop my compositional skills."