Use of Public Library Statistics, November 2008(v.12,n.1)
Public library directors recently responded to an email request about their use of public library statistics.
I was overwhelmed with the responses and I am using this opportunity to share their ideas.
- “I use it annually to get raises for my staff! (I'm not always successful, but no matter what happens, the numbers help me to show our Town Fathers how successful the library is as compared to similar libraries.)”
- “A year ago last spring I was part of a group of Needham Town Managers who attended a series of workshops on using statistical evidence to present and solve a problem. As a part of the workshop, everyone had to make a power point presentation. I chose to point up the inadequacies of Needham's Children's Room materials collections. I used the statistical information available in your public library data publications. Each manager made a presentation to the Board of Selectmen. The evening that I made my presentation the audience included a representative from a company that was about to fired by the Town for not doing work as speedily as agreed. Rather than pay a fine, the company suggested giving the library a $10,000 grant for children's materials. This could be termed serendipity; however, if I had not gathered the information from your figures, my presentation would have lacked authenticity. I used the same figures to present a case for obtaining a $25,000 cash capital appropriation to improve both the adult and children's collections. This appropriation has been made for two years in a row (FY08, FY09).”
- “I regularly update spreadsheets with the data on comparable towns that Sherborn uses to measure itself against for education, wages, etc. I attach this information to the annual budget package to help give perspective to our Town Advisory Committee (our finance committee.) Typically, I am able to show with the comparative data how much smaller our budget is compared to similar towns, and how low our FTE is. The data makes the Advisory Comm. feel great about getting strong library services inexpensively. The same information "revs up" the Trustees and Friends of the Library to help improve our circumstances. Because I have used this data so consistently during my 20 years as Director here, boards such as the Personnel Board and Advisory Committee know they can rely on me to answer their questions, provide transparency, and that the Library is highly accountable.
- I have also "loaned" our copies of the data to Library Trustees for times when they want to make their own spreadsheets or are helping me out with massive planning documents. It seems I pop in and out of the "At-a-Glance" statistics on the MBLC's website about once a week to extract information.”
- “I most recently used the public library data ranking section when writing the library's new Long Range Plan. Our poor rankings were used in the conclusion to defend some of our goals and objectives which included hiring more staff and increasing library materials.
In the past, I have also successfully used the salary data to showcase the need to increase staff salaries."
- “I used the data on municipal appropriation per capita, total operating income per capita, materials expenditure per capita, print collection per capita, audio collection per capita and video collection per capita in a MUNISTAT project for the Town Manager and Board of Selectmen. Using PowerPoint, I compared Arlington to 9 other towns in the Minuteman Library Network to show that the size of Arlington's audiovisual collection per capita was 9th out of 10 libraries and was under funded. It has been very useful and the Board of Selectmen seems to remember it [the PowerPoint ] when I do other presentations for them. I received a small increase in the AV budget which I probably would not have received otherwise.”