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Service to Asses

Abstract

Throughout the spring semester, the author will be doing a case study analysis of the Kingsport Public Library and focusing on their Time for Two’s storytime for two-year-olds. The results will be published via web in seven parts: the public library context,identification of the public library users, service to assess/evaluate, case study analysis, developing an evaluation action plan, collecting and analyzing data, and user centered assessment/evaluation in public library services. For this assignment, the author examined the service to asses.

3.1 Identify a specific service(s), program(s), collection(s), facilities, and/or other activities to assess/evaluate in your PL.

The service to be assessed/evaluated at the Kingsport Public Library is the Time for Two’s Storytime.

3.2 Describe the selected PL service. Analyze the selected PL service in relation to user-centered issues (who and how many users use the service, how often is the service used, strengths/weaknesses of the PL service, etc.).

Time for Two’s Storytime is a year-round weekly program designed for ages 24-36 months. Time for Two’s takes place every Thursday morning starting at 10:30. The program takes place in the library’s auditorium on the second floor. A typical programs consists of an opening song, a book, a fingerplay, a book, a puppet show, and another book in that order and maybe another finger play depending how kids are that day. The program typically lasts about half an hour, but if there is a craft at the end, it can last up to forty-five minutes. Though the official program would be over then, some of the parents linger in the auditorium, which can have the space used to up an hour (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

A majority of the adults who bring the children are the children’s mothers. There is occasionally a father who attends along with a couple of grandmothers who come on a regular basis. There is also an aunt who takes care of the children while their parents are at work and there can also be great-grandmothers and other caregivers. Caregivers is an appropriate term because some of the adults who bring the children are not their biological parent or grandparents, but may have custody of the child (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

From July 2014 to February 2015, 392 two-year-olds and 423 adults attended storytime. This includes the month of August were no storytimes were held to allow staff time to recover from Summer Reading. During the month of August 2014, the department head of Youth Services retired and a new staff member was added and the month long break gave staff time to adjust to both (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

The strengths of the Time for Two’s Storytime include quality of the program, parent knowledge of the program, and consistent attendance. Kyndra Jones is the Library Assistant in charge of Time for Two’s, and she is aided by one of two adult volunteers who are both retired elementary school teachers. There is always at least one adult volunteer with Kyndra though if it is a special occasion, like a Pumpkin Party, Valentine’s Party, or Egg Hunt, both adult volunteers will be present as will other staff members if necessary (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

There has yet to be a complaint about anything performed in the program or a desire to see more done in the program. On any given day, Time for Two’s can consist of read alouds, finger plays, puppet shows, action rhymes, and crafts. There is always a sticker given to the children at the end. Though the children cannot read, there are leaning to associate books with fun and learn the sounds of words. Often stories and songs involve making animal sounds or getting up and jumping around, which works on directions like up and down, left and right, along with the listening skills and learning to follow directions. Felt boards are used for sequence stories and children participate to guess which comes next along with often having to say colors and shapes (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

A brochure of the storytimes is done for three months at a time (January, February, and March) with all the different themes for each week listed (Critter Fun, Dogs Love Books. Flutter Flutter Butterfly, etc.) for parents and caregivers to take home. This allows parents to know what is coming up to communicate better with their children. There is also a Parents’ Corner in the brochure with a few guidelines such as asking parents to be on time, to please refrain from talking during storytime, to please step outside if their child is too restless to participate, and to please check-out books to extend the storytime experience at home (Jones, K, 2014). The brochures provide parents with all the essential knowledge needed to know to attend storytime.

Attendance does increase and decrease a little from month to month varying on weather conditions, parent schedules, and if there is a special program offered. However, attendance remains consistent between 10-20 children year-round. Summer will see slightly higher numbers, typically between 20-30, as some of the daycares and preschools do not have summer classes, which allows parents to bring children who are typically otherwise occupied. There are several regulars who come every week and as the children grow up, step up to the Preschool Storytime on Tuesdays for 3-5 year olds (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

The most common complaint and biggest weakness of Time for Two’s is that it is only offered once a week. Many parents, especially those who come into the library but can’t attend storytime, want it to be offered more than once a day or more than once a week. However, the library does not currently have a space to allow storytime to be more than once a week. The auditorium where Time for Two’s is held has to be used for all other programs the library offers, which makes scheduling difficult. The library did have Saturday storytime a few years ago, but it was so poorly attended they decided to discontinue it (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

3.3 Discuss the relative importance of this PL service. How much difference does it make in the success of your PL organization or in the quality of life in the community served by the agency?

The importance of storytime for two-year-olds can be profound but difficult to quantify. Studies have shown that the first three years of an individual’s life are marked by rapid growth and development, and the things learned (or not learned) during this time can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s life (United States Department of Education, 2002). The role parents can play in this can not be underestimated as studies show that the more books a child has in the home the more like he or she is to be read to, which increases the likelihood of adult success (Lin, Q, 2013). Additionally, those parents who are of a lower socioeconomic status are less likely to read to their children than their more financially well-off counterparts (United for Libraries, n.d.).

With almost 20% of Kingsport’s population living in poverty (city-data.com, 2012), the stories heard at storytime and the books checked out at the library may be some of the children’s only exposure to books and many concepts necessary for growth. Though the number is small, the children coming to storytime who have been removed from a biological parent’s home may be at more of a disadvantage than some of the other children. By providing a space and time, the new caregiver has the opportunity to see different ways to interact with the child they are now caring for and different ways books can be used to be both fun and educational.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now encouraging books, singing, and play to be incorporated into doctor visits along with telling parents that reading to their children is just as essential as feeding them the right nutrition (Rich, M, 2014). Yet, parents must have access to books and the skills necessary to interact with their children. This is where the library comes into play, especially storytime. Though the impact on an individual’s life can not be easily quantified, the people of Kingsport are utilizing storytime. In only seven months, between July 2014 and February 2015, the library saw almost 400 two-year-olds and over 400 adults attend Time for Two’s (Jones, K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015). These numbers also make it one of the library’s most successful programs as it continually increases program attendance and building attendance. Additionally, with an entire floor dedicated to Youth Services and the recent renovation and money spent on an interactive play area for children on the Youth Services floor, patrons are going to expect an emphasis on youth programs.

Perhaps most telling is that many of the children who came to Time for Two’s continue to come to the library for storytime and moved to Tuesdays for the Preschool Storytime. Even after aging out of storytime, there are many children who participate in the Summer Reading Program who started at the library as twos in storytime. In the summer of 2014, KPL had two Teen Volunteers who started participating in library activities at two-year-olds when their mother brought them to Time for Two’s. Now seventh graders, the teens are just as involved with the library as they were when they were children. The same volunteers participated in the Summer Reading Program before volunteering and participated in the Teen Summer Reading program the same summer they volunteered (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

While Time for Two’s is designed for two-year-olds, the benefits of storytime extend beyond the library’s door and continue as the children grow into teens and then into adults. Starting with storytime helps to achieve the library’s goal of creating lifelong learners and helps to create lifelong library users.

3.4 Define the selected PL service you are assessing/evaluating by listing keywords that are associated with it. Which word(s) would you use in searching for information about this service? Tag the most productive subject term.

Some keywords that would be used to search for information about storytime would be: (1) storytime (2) two-year-olds (3) library (4) Kingsport (5) early literacy (6) pre-literacy (7) preschool (8) babies (9) Tri-Cities (10) day cares.

The most helpful of these search terms would be (1) storytime and (2) two-year-olds. Storytime is broad, but accurately describes what the user would be seeking. Together, the two search terms would get the user the information they need though they may not always call it two-year-old storytime.

3.5 What are the existing ways that the PL provides information about the selected PL service? (in the physical library environment and on the web). Is there effective advertising/marketing of the PL service? Rank the ways that users find information about the selected PL service?

Kyndra Jones puts together a brochure every three months that lists all the storytimes week by week with the dates, themes, and a brief description. The brochure is available in Youth Services for anyone to take home and is announced at storytime when the new brochure is available. The brochures for both storytimes, Time for Two’s and Preschool, are posted in the picture book section of Youth Services on a bulletin board. The brochure is also posted for download and printing on the library’s website under the “Kids” section as is a monthly listing of the themes and description. Also on the website, Time for Two’s is on the library’s calendar of events. Every week, the library’s Facebook page is updated to remind users that storytime is coming up. The Facebook posts are fairly similar to this: “Join us tomorrow for a dino-mite preschool storytime at 10:30. We will listen to stomping good dinosaur stories, fingerplays, and flannelboards. Afterwards, you can make your own dinosaur craft to take home with you. We hope to see you tomorrow morning!”;(Kingsport Public Library, 2015).

Considering the attendance of the storytimes, there is effective marketing and advertising in place. This is not to say that it is perfect and that there aren’t untapped markets out there to advertise to. In the past year, Kingsport opened a new facility that houses both the new YMCA and the Aquatic Center that offers programs for kids, teens, and adults and even day care for the children so parents can work-out and attend class (Glass, C, 2015). Though they offer their own programs, this a relatively new facility where there is no library advertisement or even an outreach program.

The most common way for users to find out information about storytime is tied between the library’s website and calling or coming in and asking about storytime. Most users know the library has a website and can navigate it fairly easily. Despite that, Youth Services staff does get numerous calls and visits from parents and caregivers inquiring about the storytimes offered and seeking more information about the program (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

The second most common would the library’s Facebook page. While the library’s Facebook page is active on an almost daily basis, users must first know the library is present online, either through a Google search or through following the link from the library’s website to their Facebook page, and without liking the page users won’t see updates about storytime. Due to Facebook’s changing terms and agreements, some users have reported not seeing the library’s updates until they clicked “Get Notifications” on the page. Due to this, those who do not already know about storytime are finding the information elsewhere (Jones K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

A third way to find out information is word of mouth. Several users invite friends to storytime, who in turn tell their friends and create buzz and excitement about the program.

3.6 Discuss the interest users of the PL or other members of the community might have in this PL service. How much actual and potential demand exists for it? What events or sources are likely to stimulate interest in this PL service? What is the likely life of this interest?

The actual demand for this is high. In August of 2014 when the department head retired, there was a potential to have to cancel either Time for Two’s or the Preschool storytime due to staff shortages. This news got around and the Time for Two’s storytime moms told Kyndra they would sign a petition to keep the program running and talk to the library director and whomever else was necessary to keep the program running. Several even expressed interest about meeting unofficially so they and their kids could get together in the library (Jones, K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

The potential demand for this is steady. There will always be children being born and turning two and being able to attend storytime. However, a large number of these children will attend daycare and be unable to attend storytime. Even with that, KPL has two library assistants who do outreach and visit some of the daycares to do a storytime. A few of the daycares also come to the library for storytime. The potential demand extends beyond those who can come to storytime to anyone who has a two-year-old, or a child about to two, who knows that KPL offers storytimes (Jones, K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

One main event likely to draw interest is the library’s Summer Reading Program. Time for Two’s continues in the summer as part of the Summer Reading Program and the entire program, for all ages, is promoted throughout the community through schools, flyers in the library, information on the library’s website, a program at a local elementary school as part of a local festival, and information posted in the local newspapers. Adults will be looking for activities for their children to do during the summer, especially low-cost and no-cost programs, which the library fills. Activities for younger children can be difficult to find, especially inexpensive one, and the library’s storytime fulfills both needs. Families with older children can find out about the storytime as children bring home flyers from school about Summer Reading and then see the programs the library offers for younger children in case the family has a young child (Jones, K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

Outreach is also likely to stimulate interest. Though children attending daycares are unlikely to be able to attend storytime in the library, if they are off during the summer, they can attend then. A presence at community wide fairs highlighting activities is also likely to draw interest as it offers the library visibility outside the building and is likely to hit a different demographic than the library usually reaches (Jones, K, Personal Communication, February 27, 2015).

The likely life of the interest is ongoing. There will always be children aging out of the Time for Two’s and attending the Preschool Storytime, but there will always be new children becoming old enough to attend storytime. As long as the library continues to provide quality programming at an accessible time for parents and caregivers, the interest for Time for Two’s should continue as long as the library’s continues to be open and offers the program.

3.7 Identify, evaluate, and come to a conclusion on alternative resources/agencies that provide such services. Where might potential users go for this service IF your PL did not exist and did not provide this service? To what degree do alternative sources minimize the need for such a service? Using appropriate alternative resources (both offline and online), indicate the degree to which affordable, useful, and recent resources provide similar services.

The most common and readily available alternative resources for two-year-old storytime is other libraries. There are numerous other libraries within a half hour driving distance. The Blountville, Johnson City, Bristol, and Church Hill libraries all offer storytime. Johnson City is the only other library with a program specifically designed for two-year-olds; the other libraries offer preschool aged storytime or an all ages storytime.

Church Hill offers and all ages storytime once a week on Friday at 10 AM (Church Hill Public Library, 2015), and Blountville offers a preschool aged storytime once a week on Thursday at 11 AM (Blountville Public Library, 2015). Bristol offers an all ages storytime twice a week on Mondays at 11:30 and Tuesdays at 10:00 AM (Bristol Public Library, 2015). Johnson City offers a Two’s Company storytime twice a week on Wednesday and Thursday at 10:15 AM (Johnson City Public Library, 2015). Like KPL, all the storytimes are free. However, Johnson City is the only library that offers a storytime designed for two-year-olds. Unlike KPL, JCPL offers the storytime twice a week.

While there are numerous resources for parents and caregivers to take their children to storytime, it is unlikely those who come to Kingsport’s Time for Two’s would choose one of these alternative resources. All of the libraries are in another city and at least a half hour drive away, if not closer to between forty minutes and an hour. A few Kingsport residents would be willing to drive, but most of the adults are not willing to drive that far for a half-hour storytime. Even more parents do not have the financial means in regards to gas money and reliable transportation. Alternative resources do not greatly minimize the need for KPL’s Time for Two’s since only one other resource offers a storytime specific for two-year-olds, and all are at inconvenient locations.

3.8 Reviewing the variables mentioned above, does it seem reasonable to gather user-centered feedback to assess/evaluate the selected PL service? Provide a strong justification statement.

As Kingsport Public Library currently has no user-center feedback, it is reasonable to gather user-centered feedback. Though the program is currently well-attended, gathering user-centered feedback for the purpose of evaluation/assessment can ensure that the program continues to be well attended. User feedback may reveal areas for improvement of which staff may not be aware. Gathering user-centered feedback enables library staff to identify areas in which they are doing well and areas in which they need improvement. If the library gathers feedback from the users, Time for Two’s could become even stronger than it already is and could allow the staff to see new ways to market it.

References

Blountville Public Library (2015). Retrieved from http://www.sullivancountylibrarytn.org/programs/mother-goose-story-time/.

Bristol Public Library (2015). Children’s Department. Retrieved from http://www.bristol-library.org/Childrens-Department.

Church Hill Public Library (2015). Retrieved from http://hawkinslibraries.org/Church_Hill_Public_Library.

City-data.com (2012). Kingsport, TN. Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/city/Kingsport-Tennessee.html.

Glass, Charles. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ymcakpt.org/.

Jones, Kyndra. (2014). Time for Two’s Storytime Winter Brochure. Retrieved from http://www.kingsportlibrary.org/kids/storytime/.

Kingsport Public Library. (2015, February 23). Join us tomorrow for a dino-mite preschool storytime at 10:30 [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/kingsportlibrary?fref=nf.

Lin, Qiuyun. (2003). Parent Involvement and Early Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parent-involvement-and-early-literacy.

Johnson City Public Library (2015). Events. Retrived from http://www.jcpl.ws/events/.

Rich, Motoko. (2014). Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/us/pediatrics-group-to-recommend-reading-aloud-to-children-from-birth.html?_r=0.

United for Libraries. (N.d.). Early Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/united/products_services/booksforbabies/earlyliteracy.

United States Department of Education. (2002). Teaching Our Youngest. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/teachers/how/early/teachingouryoungest/teachingouryoungest.pdf.

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

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