Edge Initiative in Pennsylvania Libraries
Panel with Lisa Rives Collins, Denis Sticha and Barb McGary. Facilitated by Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian
“The Edge Initiative was created to provide public libraries with new strategies and tools to help achieve community priorities through enhanced technology.” Gates Foundation initiative and continuation of Gate grants and broadband work with goal to advocate for sustainable technology. There are 11 benchmarks grouped under three goals:
- Community Value
- Engage Decision Makers
- Organizational Management
Working through the online Assessment Tool and the downloadable reports provides:
- Opportunity to focus on technology by going through the checklist
- Assess current public access technology and how it is used
- Identify ways to strengthen and enhance what is offered
- Engage with key leaders to share the value of libraries
Reports and tools, like Actin Planning Tool and Executive Tools provide templates and PPTs useful for discussing the results with the community and developing strategic plans and goals around the results.
PA State Library wants to use the assessment as a data collection tool to gather statewide information that can inform them of trends that may be supported with LSTA Funds.
Panel Discussion Points:
- Why they did it…
- Planning tool, opportunity to inventory tech and tools for discussing technology with the community – provided language they were missing. Defines “stuff” that library offers.
- Tech audit that is part of the assessment was an existing goal
- Find common tech needs that can be addressed as a group
- Staff Buy In…
- Answered the survey/assessment as a group – with members of front line staff, admin and IT. Got everyone on the same page.
- Easy to do – spent 2 hours discussing the answers. Action plan lead to ways to improve. Opportunity to implement new ideas
- Lead to tech competencies for staff included in job descriptions
- Opportunities for staff discussion
- Way to get state training at no cost
- Learned about library tech and staff competencies – assumptions were sometimes wrong about what front line staff could do
- Board buy -in – for the visionary board it was easier and they ditched their strategic plan in favor of a Community Impact Plan. For the reticent board with a fear of failure, the process of talking through the assessment and questions reduced fear and they could look on the assessment as a tool for improvement, not a grade!
- Community Impact Plans – a shift in how library supports the community. Don’t look at a plan that gets Library from A to B, but focuses outward on how the Library supports the community’s goals.
- Expose Board to a new role for the library. Gives Board members specific language, examples and stories to show impact of services. Advocacy tool with credibility of the Gates Foundation behind it.
- Library-wide tech training – common goals with buy in
- PA Forward Link? Combine both initiatives – sell as a complete piece to the Board. “Computer literacy” also civic literacy and Digital citizenship taught by the library (ex: cyber bullying classes at the library).
- Could lead to additional grants and fundraising opportunities
- Involve the Board as an educational exercise.
- Use to improve Tech Plan
This will be rolled out in February, prior to the Annual Report and along with a Digital Inclusion survey (and maybe others, so the State Library can gather data to help shape their priorities).