PaLA: Know Your Community

Sunday, October 14, 2018. Nicole Hemline, Director of Monroeville Public Library, and Sara Jane Lowry Consulting  and Michelle Puzzanchera Associates, LLC

Pre-discussion with Margie: sticker voting for needs assessment. “Did you come today to check out a book or use a computer?” “Do you think the Library hours are good? Y/N”

Overview of the Community

What do they need and what does the community love? Help determine what needs to be kept, what services are most relevant. Non probability sample survey – community perceptions. Lack of a town center, but library functioned as that center.

Start with an Assessment – Going through Harwood process and people want to feel a sense of community. Connecting people together – an outcome.

Prepping the Needs Assessment:

  • Need for Library
  • Goals
  • People think of us 1st
  • Priority niches – can’t be all things to all people
  • Gaps – what population should we focus more on that we are not service
  • Steering Committee: Library staff, Board, Friends, Community stakeholders (Chamber of commerce, municipal liaison, community college, etc.)


  • Weekly task force meetings,
  • Beta testing
  • Create a FAQ sheet for public – “is my info confidential?”
  • Ran a lottery to encourage survey-taking
  • Train volunteers and staff – online survey (larger community)
  • Kickoff – 1 month
  • Conclude and provide a report on the data
  • Be flexible – take advantage of events, etc.

Share tasks and create accountability – delegate and train – all the little details (distribute to schools, gift cards, lik/button on website, Make sure slip is placed in Annual appeal, etc.)

Developing the Survey – Michelle

Convenience sample, with snowball tendencies. Start with Library users, but hoped to reach non-users at community events. Reached out to leaders and asking that the survey be sent to mailing list of the group (snowball). Less of a drain on fiscal resources, but can’t speak statistically to how representative the sample is.

Survey Development:

  • Decide what you want to know.  Do you want attitudes or behaviors? Do you want to ask about knowledge or gather info about attributes (demographics)
  • Determine general content areas,
  • Generate a list of questions and organize them under content areas,
  • Determine type of info sought,
  • Decide on question structure: Choose words that express the question and Reflect the information sought – use outside help – Handout online  How you ask a question really does matter.
  • Prepare introduction letter, instructions, etc.

Test the Survey

  • Piloting – trying out the entire survey process
  • Pre-testing – trying out questionnaire only – slow readers v. fast readers.  Length is important – not too many questions. Can use skip-logic with survey monkey online survey. Are you using conventional language?Are choices exhaustive? What’s been left out and needs added?
  • Want to identify problems:
    • Are questions/instructions clear?
    • Do people understand how to respond?
    • Are choices mutually exclusive, exhaustive?

Data Collection and Reporting

Logistics – identify sites, leaders, volunteers, schedules, equipment needs, etc.

Training, Best practices, Review survey, and Consider an “interviewer’s Kit”.  Ethics, confidentiality, inadvertent bias, background of project, how to approach people without scaring them and explain the incentives, and have volunteers practice taking the survey on the devices. FAQ sheet for data collection team. Branding and introduction letter – people want to verify and are more privacy conscious.

Flyers with tear-offs, Bitly for tiny url, business card-size handouts. Have something a person could take home with them.

Reporting Findings –

  • Report total number of respondents for every question N=XX
  • Report percentages – easier to compare
  • Use graphs for web-based survey or create graphs in Excel – Bar Graphs – easiest to interpret and comprehend.
  • Code open-ended response by looking for common themes, report percentages.
    • “What do you like best?” Code answers customer service, collection, – shove answers into areas and then categorize more granularly.
    • Show to staff first before going to the Board for re-interpretation.
    • Harvest quotes and put them in a database.  Positive feedback and interesting conspiracy theories 🙂
    • Asked about community issues and if the library was involves in solving community problems. Many saw library as partner in finding a solution.
    • Use them sparingly, but they provide rich content
  • Examine difference in sub-groups by demographics (age, level of education). Pivot tables. Gave new information and reinforced the good work they were already doing.

Library was raising money for an elevator during the same time. Staff turnover was high during the process, as well.

Challenges: marketing component, needed more internal communication and social media buzz, didn’t meet the goal, some volunteers didn’t follow through,

Perception is Reality – If schools are hot-button, make sure community knows how you work with the school district. Drugs? Crime? Traffic… Hold on to what you know about the community – weave through what is real and what is not.  Focus groups to explore some of those issues – a place to get clearer about some information that comes out of the surveys. Use Harwood conversations to help explain.  Ex: Safety is an issue, but people don’t feel unsafe when asked!

Ask for technical app that made survey easier to use on iPads. If doing a phone survey, have caller use the online survey for prompts – use exact same language.

“One no is enough” – do not talk a person into taking the survey. It isn’t ethical. Ask a question about if you are a cardholder of the library (93% were users). Focus on “we are improving the community” and not just focus on the library. If a non-user answered now, they didn’t know how to answer anything else!  Skip logic? “What would entice you to use the library?” Hint: Put library card holder question at the end near demographics.  When making the survey, think about flow and how comfortable it is to complete. Ask if a person agrees with a statement, ex. “Does your child need financial aid?” Bigger life and community challenges were the focus. Touch on job training, education, starting a business, training – speaks to real life needs. Then position library as a place that can help you solve those needs.





Opportunity: MCLINC Executive Director

The Montgomery County Library Information & Network Consortium (MCLINC) is looking for a person with the perfect combination of vision, leadership, and ILS-expertise to be our next Executive Director.  The deadline for applying is Oct. 15.

All but four of the public libraries in Montgomery County, a beautiful suburb of Philadelphia, belong to the Consortium and we share our materials on the MCLINC network using Polaris 6.0 hosted in the cloud. The staff is small but strong, with an amazing Network Manager, dedicated Administrative Assistant/Office Manager/Polaris troubleshooter, and our helpful Network Administrator. This is an opportunity to be a part of the technology team, but also take the lead on developing the ILS to ensure we are getting the best user experience out of it for our customers. The Board of Directors (I’m lucky enough to be President this year) is a fun mix of seasoned and new professionals with diverse backgrounds, strong viewpoints, and high expectations for the type of customer service we want to provide our patrons. We rely on our staff-run committees – technology, circulation, reference, and cataloging/database – to work through issues and bring recommendations and policy suggestions to the Board for consideration. Our new Strategic Plan provides a road map for our immediate goals, as well as a few aspirations.

(Please don’t be turned off by our Web site – a complete redesign is in the plan!)

PLA 2018 Project Outcome pre conference

PLA 2018 | Philadelphia | March 20 (all day) | Project Outcome Training Workshop


What is an Outcome? Knowledge | Confidence | Application | Awareness

What is an Outcome Measurement?
Need Assessment (What does our community need?) | Output (How much did we do?) | Outcome (What good did we do?) | Patron Satisfaction (What should we do better?)

Why Measure Outcomes? To better measure and improve your library’s impact on the community it serves | To support planning and assessment over time | To help better manage services and resources | To demonstrate a need for funding and other support

Examples: Sacramento knitting club, Jacksonville PL for funding justification (SRP and story time) Richard Mott said, “Parents that attended our programs, 96% said because of program attendance, they felt more confident to help their children learn.”  Tells funders that libraries are essential.

Process: 1. Identify Needs 2. Measure Outcomes 3. Review Results 4. Take Action

Data Collection Team: Set up additional accounts to share training resources and set up a training plan that includes an overview and then the appropriate level of training for their part, for example, survey administration.  Build internal support and get staff buy in.

Strategies for Building Internal Support:

  • Start Engagement Early – Make everyone aware and give folks a chance to voice concerns and see who is interested in the process (Teen services, for example).
  • Build Internal Support – Identify library leadership/Board/staff who believe in the value of outcome measurement to help carry the message and make the case.
  • Be Upfront with What You Expect to Find Out – Know WHY you are doing this.  Be transparent about what kind of information you are trying to capture with outcome data. It could be seen as threatening and feel apprehensive about the change in the process. Goal is to provide the best service possible – what is working or not and change what isn’t working to make it better.  Ex: Summer Reading Program.  Forward thinking. What ways have libraries found to gather feedback about the internal process?  Seek out examples of how to check in with staff during the process.

Feedback from Dan Hensley, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the process gave the library “piles of beautiful data” and served as a “great advocacy tool” to tell stories. (His video is archived at the project web site.)

Q&A: How many libraries think about and document outcomes WHILE planning the program – so you know what success looks like before you start?  This project is adaptable, so it could be used to gather data for hyperlocal goals, outside the prescribed Project Outcome goals.

Outcome Measurement Continuum: From Patron-reported learning (immediate survey) to Patron-reported adoption/application of learning (follow-up survey) to Deeper analysis and long-term benefits (outcome measurement guidelines).

Survey Topics: Civic/Community Engagement | Digital Learning | Economic Development | Education/Lifelong Learning | Early Childhood Literacy | Job Skills | Summer Reading

Sample Immediate Survey – easiest, quickest option. Multiple choice with open ended questions, too. Online or paper, but survey can be edited/customized.  Example: Plano, TX included survey in with STEM kits that could be checked out and discovered a lack of knowledge of library programs, so a schedule/calendar was added to the kit. 90% of brochures were kept by patrons!

Follow-Up Survey – longer, 2 pages, with more response space. “Patron-reported adoption” – any change of behavior? Skill used in life or work? 4-8 weeks later (or earlier with computer classes).  Takes more staff time – administered differently (ask patron if OK to contact, then gather content, then contact them for an interview.

Summer Reading Survey is only available as an immediate survey. Includes a question, “What could the library do to help your child continue to learn more?”  Also it is different for Caregivers, Teens, and Adults.

Process for Choosing the Right Survey: Identify Community Needs > Identify Library Goals (from Strategic Plan) > Choose Program & Survey Topic (avoid survey fatigue) > Choose Survey Type

Example of Survey Questions for Civic/Community Engagement Immediate Survey.  Each Topic has a unique set of questions.

  1. You are more aware of some issues in your community
  2. You feel more confident about becoming involved in your community
  3. You intend on becoming more engaged in your community
  4. You are more aware of resources and services provided by the library
  5. What did you like most about the program?
  6. What could the library do to better assist you with your involvement in the community?

Follow-up survey questions:

  1. I became more involved in the community
  2. I used what I learned to do something new or different in the community
  3. I discussed or shared with others what I learned or experienced
  4. I checked out a book, attended another program, or used another library service or resource
  5. What did you like most about this program or service?
  6. What could the library do to help you continue to learn more?

Survey creation process is well designed and seems easy to use – we have to be mindful of what data we want to pull out when creating and naming the surveys. Custom questions can be added to the canned/standardized survey questions.  The standardized survey questions can’t be edited and the survey must be given in its entirety, if you want your surveys included in the aggregated online project system. Keeps the data clean. Can add up to 3 open-ended questions per survey, common questions are in a drop-down menu, be mindful of survey fatigue, be mindful of confidentiality, and do not ask for contact information on surveys. Anonymous. Use a separate process to gather contact information for follow up surveys. Example of canned questions, ‘How did you hear about this program?’ or zip code data.

LUNCH … so I’m going to publish the first part.

Administering the Survey – you can have a PDF paper survey or online survey (English or Spanish), unique for each survey. It’s tablet-friendly, can be emailed, or taken at a kiosk at the library.  No translations for other languages, yet. OK to translate if you have a trusted translator (ask in discussion board for Russian).

Survey Best Practices: For the Immediate survey, hand out survey at the end of the program, email/text the link, give clear instructions, have a drop-box for completed surveys, build in time in the program to complete the survey, and have a volunteer to help.  For Follow-up surveys, collect contact information at the end of program and explain what it will be used for. Send the survey 4-8 weeks after, if calling or interviewing, plan to get help.  Push to FB or add to Vertical Response to participants

Survey Schedule: For the year, stagger surveys and audiences.  If collecting a baseline, maybe it makes more sense to consistently survey one program all year.

How to Talk to Patrons about Surveys: Strategies to talk to patrons about the value of their feedback. Scripts. “There’s always room to grow. Even if you love the library and the programs, it is always useful to get patron feedback, so we can serve you better.” “We want your honest opinion.” New ideas, help us brainstorm. “This is part of a national outcome measurement initiative managed by PLA.” “The survey is 100% confidential and does not require any contact information.”

From the Web site:

How do I complete the survey?

[For Immediate Surveys] Please read the survey carefully. The surveys measure responses on a 5-point Likert scale, with the additional option of “Not Applicable.” The Likert scale reads from left (Strongly Disagree) to right (Strongly Agree). Please select one response option for each question and make sure to complete the open-ended questions below, which ask you what you liked most about the program or service and suggestions for improvement.

Survey Management Tool – Wow.  You can archive older surveys, immediately see responses, you can draft or delete surveys, and you can copy surveys. To enter paper responses, there is a quick and easy button to do it one-by-one online when logged in or you can enter multiple responses through a form without logging in. Works well with volunteers. “The usefulness of your reports and dashboards relies on accurate data entry.” Tip: Mark surveys that have been entered, in case the pile falls on the floor…

You cannot EDIT the responses, you would need to delete and re-enter the responses.  So be careful.

Review Results – PDF Summary report, data dashboard, raw survey data, qualitative data analysis, and tips for communicating data accurately

Report builder and step-by-step tools. Training videos are being made now.  You can include a custom narrative and logo, for board presentations.  PDF Report includes general information/canned verbiage about the process and an overview of the survey purpose, then Results with graphics, data, and comparisons. Eventually,  we will be able to include a few choice open-ended responses. We can include attendance, then the response rate is calculated by the system.  More blanket text included at the end of the report – “Implications for community impact“.

Data Dashboard – set of visualization tools. Interactive and use the same design elements for consistent presentation. Purple is positive, Green is needs improvement, Grey is neutral.  Overview shows aggregate scores, including state and national averages. Matrix – Topic and Outcome matrix can be used to find gaps in service. Can apply filters to specify data. Chord Diagram – When you hover, correlations drawn between topics and outcome indicators. A way to actively manipulate the data and/or show strong connections. Detail – breaks down each question with bar chart and includes state and national scores for comparison. Map – Plots locations of library with outcomes and demographic data. Look at geographic areas of service. Library Info – pulls from IMLS data (older), but pulls in general output (statistical) data into a similarly formatted graphic. Consistent with other outcome data in look/feel.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 1.42.46 PM.png

This is research with a little “r” – so we must provide context if the sample size is small and may need provide additional information about why a program had a low response rate. We can access the raw data and do year-to-year comparisons and access open-ended questions. Dataset also shows comparison of print v. online response rate.

Open Responses also available through Detail dashboard with light filtering. Can filter by program name to group multiple programs together to analyze data and open-ended answers. Ex: Early Literacy programs, including all 3 story times. Includes standardized questions and any pre-determined additional questions or unique questions written by library.

Analysis of Qualitative Data – challenging area to approach – you can read through them, but how do you make decisions and identify trends?

  1. Condense & Categorize Data – group comments according to common topics
  2. Describe Categories – Describe what people said most often and any smaller categories that you found meaningful.  Start with categories that have the most comments.
  3. Share Findings – “Share internally with staff, discuss results at staff meetings, identify opportunities for change, or plan to use in eternal advocacy messaging.”

Create a spreadsheet that includes all of the responses and the categories determined in step 1, then score each response. Subjective process that might benefit from working with others. Archived webinar to further explain the process. Determine which categories are most prominent and then “describe what people said most often and any smaller categories that you found particularly meaningful.”  Describe the trends that you see – “makes for nice messaging.”

Communicating Data Accurately | Challenges:

  • Results based on number of survey respondents – be clear, “based on survey respondents” and include number of responses and response rate. Don’t try to infer data to a larger group.
  • Surveys measure patron’s perceived change – use results for program improvement and to determine if objectives are met, and back up big decisions with other data collection. Don’t use data for published research .
  • Data is a community snapshot – only show patron’s perspective, triangulate with other data to show a complete experience, “bring in average scores over time for more reliability,” and frame library s one factor in the outcome.  Don’t claim causality.

Using Survey Results – What Is Your Goal? (p. 47 of the workbook)

  • General advocacy
  • Justify Funding Requests
  • Programming Decisions
  • Community-Based Partnerships


  • Julianne Rist – Community Goal of minutes read in response to Jefferson County Public Library (CO) Summer Reading surveys – also had a donation to animal shelter when/if community goal was met. Also used Project Outcome to evaluate 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. Used the follow-up survey to see changes in behavior and if readers complete the program. Track by zip code.
  • Amy Koester – Skokie Public Library (IL), Village of 65,000, 90+ languages, 40% foreign born. Digital Learning Experience – targeted, modified surveys that include questions “Why did you sign up for this class?” (immediate) and “How successful was [class] at helping you achieve your goal?” (follow-up). Needs assessment built into Outcome survey.
  • Christa Werle – Sno-Isle libraries – Had to come up with a common vocabulary and used many definitions determined by Project Outcome.  “Issues that matter” programs – civic engagement survey to evaluate. Homelessness last year, mental health this year. Hyper-local or short duration interests, for example “Living with Bears” or “Solar Eclipse”
  • Interesting Q&A. Good uses of the process.  ROI to determine value of programs.

[Insert me trying to close the library early due to weather in the middle of all this.]

Roadmap – the meat of this workshop…a plan of attack!


Library Space Planning with A. Cohen

LLAMA webinar – Library Space Planning – Using Knowlege Management Principles for Success With Alexander Cohen. Over 10,000 library projects worked on by the consulting firm.

Share knowledge and build communities – Knowledge Managing Concepts

1. Develop Social Capital – What is a learning organization? How do we encourage continuous improvement and supporting Antifragile Management (no more annual performance reviews).

How do we measure communities of practice?  Look at libraries from a behavioral aspect.  Look at modes of learning: touch point (service desk), reflective (quiet space), presentation (learning lab), collaborative (cafe or computers), social (cafe, bookstore, maker space, art space).  What are the physical, communication, and human interactions/needs in those spaces.  How do we communicate in a 2-D and 3-D environments?   Uses of the spaces based on these modes of learning.

Service Desk as a touch point: How does it flow, What are the attributes of the community and how does the service desk reflect those?  Self-service v. Human interactions

Another way to measure project attributes for the touch points is to look at see/hear/touch.  For example, at the reflective space, how important is sight, hearing or touch?  You probably don’t want human staff, want little sound, but maximum sight in quiet reflective space.

Use emotional intelligence methods for planning and operating services. A flexible service desk is a touch point that is physical and highly visible.  Example, a student-staffed service desk at the entrance of an academic library so there is a peer-to-peer exchange upon entering the space.

User Space Needs – how much space do users need?

Social space – a person’s behavioral bubble, or personal space, may be larger and have different needs than in a reflective space or a collaborative space. How do you measure library services – and how do you design for those service needs.  Justify the space for the users needing it. Pendulum swinging back to 1-2 person use of the space away from 8-16 person collaborative spaces.

Library as incubator – how does it fit this model? Great flexibility with wheeled furniture. Students create hives within the space as needed.  Expand to include technology like augmented reality, music recording, broadcasting, and 3D printing.

Library Planning Approaches

  1. Dialogue and tour with the users – see what they see, hear what they hear.
  2. Needs Assessment: Space
  3. Needs Assessment: Service (future needs)
  4. Summary of Findings as a pre-planning tool and money generator

Methodology for Change:

  • Discover: What is? What are the best parts of the existing library we want to maintain?  Make sure they are retained
  • Dream: What might Be
  • Design: What should be
  • Deliver: What will be

Focus on the desires of the user community – stay focused on what the community truly wants.  Keep the process transparent.

An accurate, insightful list of program attributes is as important as a clear vision.  Creative Tension and Emotional Tension oppose each other.  Work with communities to understand where the vision and reality match or there are gaps.

Need clear goals, objectives, and vision for the community based on studying the user needs and wants. This helps keep the project vision from being diminished.

Corners as collaborative space, edges for reflective space, and central flexible central space.  Example has pivoting walls that can create large, small, changing spaces.

Design Modes – ‘breakthrough for today’

Touchpoints are service desks. They can be expensive and a barrier to service. Or it can be inexpensive and flexible. Important part – must have a human for it to work best 😉  Service desk is key to library service – customer service, technology sharing, interactive space full of disruption.  The desk should be open, near the entrance, safety conscious.  The human touch of this space – how do humans fit in it comfortably.

Example: Ask Us, touchscreen interactive environment next to an interactive space for staff/patron interactions

Interactive map!  How cool would that be. Space age touch point. Search technology on book ends – also space age touch point. Launch pad iBeacon transponder sends information if opted in by the patron. Student art show ap as an example.

Reflective Space – scholarly space, comfortable, light, big tables, nooks for reading and study.  Volumetric physical space – open, semi-enclosed and enclosed, quiet seating.  Communication/hearing: is it tech space, has wifi, includes augmented reality.  Human touch in reflective mode you have seat size for the behavioral bubble, lighting and power controls.  How to break you library down into pieces and these elements that are important for the environment.

Presence of books on the shelf helps give the feel of reflective space. Mobile reflective space – bar space to perch. Take photos of your library to analyze what you see.  If everyone has headphones does that mean the library is too loud?

Living edge idea – run seating perpendicular to the wall with quiet environment with natural light. Personal zone, dividers or book walls to break up the space.

Collaborative space should be flexible, writable walls for example. More pronounced in academic library settings.  Include technology, headphones, light, open space.  Conference rooms that foster parallel play.  Know that ideal number is 4-7 max and then the space morphs into presentation space. Virtual tech to aid collaborative space – webinars, conference calls, telepresence, etc.

Social Space = new need for libraries. Started with Applestore/Starbucks phenomenon.  Flowing environment without noise control.  Includes eating areas, near entrance, semi-enclosed or open, security, cleaning, flexible AV, odor control, Flexible human space, behavior bubble and ‘personal space’, cafe style. Cafe needs a garbage strategy to be successful. Browsing is still a social activity, but need hang out space and open study environments. Genius techie bar at the library. Barista as a touch point at the library. Coffee and check out your books ;-O  Gaming spaces.

Presentation space – open to expand? Small group or large and flexible space. Bring in privacy screens or large video wall. Maker space and present new ideas. Ideabox with windows as a live presentation.  Screens and dividers with stacking chairs – flexible.

What benchmarks do we apply to understand our library service?  Door count, tech use, program attendance, active patrons, e-resource use

Writable walls in staircase as a way to communicate.

Phase plan overview pre-plan…  <end notes>

My Township Manager called, so I had to mute my webinar.  I’ll get the archive and see what the Q&A said.






Edge Initiative in Pennsylvania Libraries

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:

  1. Community Value
  2. Engage Decision Makers
  3. 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
  • Benefits…
    • 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
  • Q&A…
    • 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). &gt; Assessment Workbook

Small, Medium and Large: Library Renovations for Small, Medium and Large Budgets

Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 pm with Cheri Fiory, Upper Dublin Public Library, Janet Fricker, Bethlehem Area Public Library and Susan Jeffery, North Pocono Public Library

Disclaimer – I’ve seen Upper Dublin’s renovations, but just saw images of the other two in today’s program.

Based on a 2009 study, the Upper Dublin Library knew they needed to focus on teen space and quiet space.  Also knew they needed a quick-fix to get them through the next 5-10 years, so they asked for a low-cost, expanded space and went to the Township for $200,000.  In the end:

  • Design – $235,000
    Friends – $105,000 for new furniture
    Grants – $10,000


  • New Teen space and daytime computer lab
  • Quiet reading room
  • Conference room
  • New service desk and workroom

Recommend: Get help, communicate clearly, plan, and educate self on project management.

To my Kansas peeps, I say be thankful for Hans and Co.!  Definitely worthwhile to have a general contractor or architectural consultant on the team to help review electrical schematics and other construction details the Library has to approve!

Medium – Bethleham historic building with no major changes since 1940’s – same fixtures and furniture, plus leaks, mold, water damage and exposed wires.

Started “Room to Grow” multi-phase funding campaign – fundraisers included:

  • 1407 fundraiser – if each person in the service area gave $14.07, they’d reach $1 million
  • Rotary golf tournaments
  • Fashion Show
  • Local restaurant gave percentage of profits = $38,000
  • Fundraisers managed by staff – one person put Part-time into Development.

Design elements:

  • Red, orange, yellow and green color scheme (even painted chairs)
  • Carpet used creatively to differentiate Teen for children’s area and 2 other areas of library
  • Two-sided Circ/Ref desk in middle – facing entrance
  • Revived period lighting, refinished ALL shelving, closed 3 months (staff worked in basement adding security strips, in book mobile or at another branch)
  • Used curved, modular furniture
  • Received a community development grant

Large – North Pocono – new building to replace outgrown 1985 building on 9 acres of land

Had to scale back the building from 14,000 to 8,400 sq feet due to funding.  Received USDA loan, RACP grant (only $250,000) and used naming opportunities and pavers going into the library.

Design features:

  • community center with outdoor porch
  • meeting space – 90 seats with after-hours community access (door to library after foyer)
  • Laptop checkout – work where you want, using a proprietary network, separate from open wifi network
  • Added a TV with CNN on closed captioning to quiet reading area
  • Teen shelves end-panels tiled with colorful, small square tiles – very tactile
  • Reading tree hand-crafted by local artist in children’s area
  • Future: nature programming outside door near children’s area, including a butterfly garden
  • Electronic bulletin board in foyer to reduce clutter and paper
  • Business Center with expanded desk space near copy machine for ‘away from home’ office
  • Geothermal heat, but not LEED certified b/c of expense, but still very efficient and green design and construction
  • Networking took more space than expected

Budgeting and Funding:

  • $500,000 grant and USDA loan = government money has added expenses
  • public bidding process required
  • Testing reports to state required
  • ADA requirements “tedious” – had to change railings in ADA bathroom multiple times
  • Closed 3 weeks – only brought over books from old building

Circulation went up at all libraries after renovations.  Bethleham saw their circ double and received additional funds from a local university.  North Pocono saw circ go up and an increase in new users.

Thank you to the presenters – I hope we can start renovations sooner rather than later!

Annual Reports

In Pennsylvania, if someone says “annual report” they mean the Public Library statistical report that we all have to complete in the spring.

Well, when I was a newbie director, the NEKLS grant application said I had to have an annual report (although I think I just realized that meant I had to complete the state statistical report).  Anyway, I went online and found this great 2-page report template for the Anytown Public Library from Iowa and used it in Tonganoxie way back in 2003.  I brought a sample of my favorite Tongie-era documents with me to Pennsylvania…so guess what our 2012 Annual Report for Huntingdon Valley looks like?  It was nice enough to impress my Board and the Statistical Story was approved by my statistics-teaching Saturday supervisor.  I hope Iowa still uses this with their libraries.  It’s a good exercise to condense a year’s worth of activity into a neat package for Superintendents and Commissioners and City Managers and such.

HVL Annual Report 2012


Is this thing on?

December 16 will be my 5 month anniversary at Huntingdon Valley.  I’m still getting acquainted with the community, my staff, the Board and the overall priorities of the library.  I’ve been asked to come up with a draft Strategic Plan, so here’s my SWOT..


  • Great Building with meeting space, two ISPs, new computers, a living room, beautiful grounds and modern shelving.  The carpet is in passible condition, as well.
  • Dedicated Board – full of smart and successful people who want what’s best for the Library.  They’re also willing to spend money.
  • Generous budget, that we have underspent for a few years in a row due to Director and staff turnover.  The State requires that we prove “local effort” at a level at or above the previous year.  Local effort isn’t determined by income, but by expenditures.  Hard to spend money when you’re without a Director every few months/years.


  • Customer Service.  It’s not up to my unreasonably high standards.  The Board wants “Hospitality industry” standards and so do I.  This will take time, training and a slow indoctrination process.  They will drink the kool-aid eventually.
  • Building Maintenance – we need paint, new tile flooring and a new circulation desk. The Circ Desk is key – the stand-up configuration and large span between the patron standing at the desk and the staff person sitting at their workstation does nothing to help with customer service.  People feel they’re bothering us when we have to get up and walk to the desk.
  • Inconsistent leadership and vision.  The library has been limping along, the staff trying their best to keep it going, without a plan, a vision, or useful mission.

Opportunities (external):

  • Community Hub.  Via the Chamber, outreach, meeting room usage, fundraising efforts and basic community involvement, I think we can make ourselves invaluable.  As one staffer said, we need to do something or we’ll be obsolete in 5 years.
  • Family Place.  Libraries have an opportunity to corner the market on early-literacy.  Story Time is just the beginning.
  • Lifelong Learning Center.  This community is all about programming and lectures and cultural dinners, so we’re working with the Friends to provide more.  This is one of those areas that suffered due to inconsistent leadership, I think.

Threats (external):

  • Obsolescence.  If tax payers and private funders don’t value the library or see what role we play as a community center, literacy/education support institution, or social equalizer…we’ll go the way of the Dodo.
  • Economy and Budget.  Aid from the Commonwealth continuously decreases and financial support from the Township is not guaranteed.  Private donations of both time and money are shrinking, as well.
  • Changing Demographics.  How do we attract and keep both young adult and adult users?  Small children and seniors are good, but not enough to sustain us.
  • Staffing.  We need more staff, more staff training, and clearer expectations to ensure we can actually achieve our new strategic goals.

For my own sanity rather than vanity, here’s a list of accomplishments.

  • Staff interviews.  These were useful and it’s time to start up with them again.
  • Social Media and PR.  We’ve resurrected the Facebook page, started a weekly eNewsletter and linked a WordPress blog created by the previous director to the Web site via RSS and call it the “news blog.”
  • Improved relations with the Friends.  I hope I have shown them I’m capable, reasonable, responsive and appreciative.  In turn, they’ve given us almost $30,000 in grants, when we normally get $17,000.
  • Collection Development.  We are now a team.  By putting our RA guru back into the role of ordering adult fiction, having our Circ Supervisor link the new fiction and taking on Non-fiction ordering and cataloging myself, I think we’ve done a good job of having what our patrons want in a fairly timely manner.
  • Supporting Youth Services.  Not only was the acting supervisor promoted, we hired her an assistant who is great.
  • New Technology and a MAC.  The Board let me buy 8 new computers and hire a MAC/Tech consultant to help with Polaris and our tech needs.  We also upgraded our Comcast bandwidth from 10 to 50 Mbps, so we have some uber-awesome wireless for patrons.

And my list of challenges:

  • Staffing.  Between major illnesses, surgeries, resignations and injuries…I haven’t had a full cadre of staff since I started.  We’ve made due and I’ve been up at the Circ Desk a lot, but we really, really need everyone hale, hearty, healthy and ready to work.  We’ll have several folks on light duty for a few more weeks, but hopefully they’ll be back to full speed by mid-January.  Luckily, I was able to hire a Substitute who saved our collective butts last week.  Oh, and I lost my Bookkeeper last week.
  • Overwhelming needs.  It’s been hard to prioritize and hard to accomplish much when I’m working the desk (except modeling customer service, getting to know patrons, learning our policies and becoming more familiar with the ILS).  Time management is tough, but I’m told by staff that even though I don’t feel it…I’m getting more done than some previous directors.
  • No NEKLS.  Seriously…Kansas Libraries are SO Lucky to have the regional system with consultants, architects on retainer, NEST, watch-parties, and standards.  I haven’t been shy about asking questions, but still…it’d be nice to have  Mickey or Laura to call on occasion (which I do).

Overall, I’m still glad to be a librarian, happy to be a Director again and just tell myself often…what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

A funny Tina Fey Quote found via  This Blog via Pinterest.