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Measuring What Matters
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2014 NEKLS Trustee Workshop …

2014 NEKLS Trustee Workshop
Joan Frye Williams

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  • Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenberg County, NC
  • Source: Jamie Larue, former Director of Douglas County Public Library (CO)


  • 1. Measuring What Matters Presented by Joan Frye Williams NEKLS Summer Trustee Workshop June 7, 2014
  • 2. To understand how your library relates to your community…
  • 3. Look beyond what’s always been measured
  • 4. Look beyond the conventional wisdom
  • 5. 1. Start with the people
  • 6. As long as you’re looking at groups, you’re not breaching confidentiality
  • 7. Who is eligible to use your library?
  • 8. • Demographics • Neighborhoods • Destinations: where residents work, play, shop, go to school, and hang out • Technology availability/usage • Quality of life goals and priorities
  • 9. Who has signed up for a library card?
  • 10. Member profile • Age range • Neighborhood • School (add to patron record) • Other demographics or target audiences (add to patron record) e.g. Spanish speakers, business owners, new residents, etc. • Recruitment rate • Retention rate
  • 11. Who works at the library?
  • 12. Employee and volunteer profile • Age range • Years of service • Similarity to community profile
  • 13. 2. Reach consensus on what role your library should play in your community
  • 14. Consensus  The process was fair  I understood the decision criteria  There was an opportunity for my voice to be heard  Even if the direction isn’t exactly what I would have chosen, I will support it with positive communications and actions
  • 15. Strategic profile • Mission, vision, values • Alignment with broader community goals • Positioning with respect to other service providers • Desired impact
  • 16. 3. Get acquainted with library services
  • 17. What can the community get from their library?
  • 18. Service profile • Complete list of services available • When each service was introduced • How each service relates to the library’s strategic profile • Where each service is offered – in the library, out in the community, online/virtual
  • 19. Which services are members choosing?
  • 20. Demand data • Number and percentage of members who are using each service • Types/groups of members who are using each service • Seasons, days, or times of heaviest demand • Services for which community demand exceeds the library’s capacity to respond, with an estimate of the gap
  • 21. Bonus: What is a “typical” transaction for members of different groups?
  • 22. 4. Understand how library resources are allocated
  • 23. What does the community get for its investment?
  • 24. Cost data for key services • Per capita • Per member • Per user • Per program/event • Per transaction Compare: 1. Total cost 2. Staff costs only
  • 25. 5. Be on the lookout for…
  • 26. Diversification
  • 27. Signs that interest in a service is waning
  • 28. Cost/demand disparities
  • 29. Outliers and exceptions
  • 30. Omissions
  • 31. Surprises
  • 32. 6. Gather brief, compelling stories about the impact of library services Critical pieces: 1. Person – Caden was a bright 6 year old boy. 2. Problem – Caden had a stutter, and was having trouble in school. 3. Library intervention – Caden’s Mom took him to the library, and he saw a library program where children were reading to service dogs. Caden began reading to Toby, and eventually overcame his stutter. 4. Happy ending – Caden’s Mom called last week, and he’s doing much better in school!
  • 33. Let’s continue the conversation… Photo by Martin Helmke