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User-Centered Assessment

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 the last assignment, the author looks at the library broadly and Time for Two’s in relation to factors which are liberating or limiting.

Based on your interactions and analysis of the collaboration with your PL throughout the semester, examine user-centered issues as they impact and were impacted by the following (at least 100-150 words for each bulleted point listed below)) (broadly in the context of your PL and in relation to the select service that you assessed/evaluated). Identify and justify each as liberating or limiting factor and provide evidence as justification of your response):

Library governance

Library governance is limiting. The library board and the Friends of the Library are always supportive of the library and FOL will often provide funds to help with new areas, news computers, etc, but large projects have to be approved by the Board of Mayor and Alderman. The BMA appears to often miss the true value of the library and would prefer to see large amounts of money be spent elsewhere else in the city. Additionally, the BMA is in a state of transition, so any current requests, like renovating the existing structure, have to be approved by the current BMA and by the new BMA in July. In relation to Time for Two’s, the current state of affairs prevents the library from getting a new wing, which would include a dedicated storytime space. If there was dedicated storytime space, Time for Two’s could be offered more frequently and new storytimes for different ages could be started.

Library identity (mission, vision, strategic aims, etc.)

Library identity is liberating. The library has a clearly defined mission and vision statement posted on their website for anyone to view. The mission and vision statement encompass every aspect of the community the library could serve now and in the future. The strategic aims of the library are excellent, if potentially slightly unrealistic due to funding issues. The library wishes to continue with the current programs and introduce new ones, particularly a lap sit storytime, a program for elementary kids during the school year, and a lego club. The strategic aims are all listed in an unpublished document that the library director keeps and marks off/adjusts as the library progresses. In relation to Time for Two’s, it satisfies part of the library’s identity to offer services for all ages and to help create lifelong learners.

Community analysis and needs assessment

Community analysis is liberating in the aspect of it being performed on a yearly basis. Printed surveys are left at all the desks in the library, a link is put on the library’s website, promoted through Facebook, and listed in the library’s monthly enewsletter. Of course, it has the pitfalls of any voluntary, anonymous survey, but it aids greatly in helping to the library to determine which areas needs the most help. The library is constantly doing its own needs assessment through staff and more informal interactions with the patrons. Even if it’s not in the yearly survey, patrons will often let staff know what they wish the library had more of and staff then relay those requests to administration to make note of it to better determine if the need can be met. In regards to Time for Two’s, it is limiting as the only time an analysis or assessment was done was for the assignment. If staff continue to do yearly assessment, it will become liberating.

Marketplace dynamics/advertising

Advertising is liberating. The library has an active Facebook page for general library events and notifications and a separate Facebook page for the Teen Advisory Group to post about teen events. The library has a website and a Twitter to post about events and to provide information. Outreach, especially in Youth Services, is performed often and helps to remind people that the library exists and is there for their needs. The Summer Reading program is marketed to the local newspapers and radios and included in the monthly enewsletter for subscribers. In relation to Time for Two’s, the storytime is advertised on the library’s website, Facebook, and is included with the Summer Reading Program advertising.

Evaluation action plan

The evaluation action plan is limiting. There is no formal evaluation action plan and certainly nothing that staff can reference to know their goals in relation to it. The library does a lot of internal evaluation, but there is no formal plan for this either. State standards must be met, but again, there isn’t an actual plan in place, but instead a yearly evaluation done by the library director to determine the areas for improvement. In relation to Time for Two’s, there is no evaluation action either, though staff were so pleased with the results of the survey they intend to do the survey more often and create a survey for the Preschool Storytime. After receiving the results are in from both surveys, an action plan will be formed.

Assessment and evaluation methods

Assessment and evaluation methods are limiting. The only assessment done is once a year via a voluntary survey. While the survey method itself is fine, it does suffer from the pitfalls of any survey, such as a low turn in rate and incomplete responses. It is also very broad and leaves little room to focus on a particular service, program, or aspect of the library looking to be evaluated. But to keep the survey short and more likely to receive responses, it needs to be broad. To better assess and evaluate, each department would need their own survey (or another method) and choose how often to evaluate services. In relation to Time for Two’s, there is no assessment or evaluation action in place.

Personnel management

Personnel management is limiting because it appears that communication is not always as it should be. Things can often have a trickle down effect and the true meaning of the message (whatever it may be) is often lost or distorted. Additional, communication between departments is not ideal. Departments do not often work together and staff often do not feel like interdepartmental work is acceptable. Communication within departments seems to work rather smoothly and emails are often sent out to all staff if something has happened that all need to be aware of. However, there are some things that happen that all staff would like to know, and feel they have a right to know, but are not told in any official context. In regards to Time for Two’s, there is very little management of it from any supervisor. Kyndra Jones has been doing storytime for about ten years now and is generally trusted by all staff to put on a quality storytime. As long as attendance continues to be good, it is likely the minimal supervision will continue.

Finances

Though the library would certainly prefer to have more money than they do, the library is not in danger of losing financing as long as the state standards continue to be met. Additionally, the library receives funding from the City of Kingsport, which does tend to fluctuate and be heavily influenced by local politics. A new building for the library, nearly completely dependent on funds from the city, continues to be pushed back because the city decided to invest in other ventures like a new building for the YMCA and joint outdoor aquatic center, and new ball fields. The finances are a limiting factor because it condenses the programs the library can offer, both in terms of materials needed and staffing, and because the plans for new building are on hold. In relation to Time for Two’s storytime, finances limit the number of days storytime can be offered and the types of programming that can be offered as there is no separate budget for storytime. It is all part of the general Youth Services department.

Policy development

Policy development is liberating. The library has all of its policies in a wiki that can be accessed by staff from any library computer. All departments have a Policies and Procedures notebook for reference if there is ever a question on any of the policies. General policies for the patrons are posted on bulletin boards at both entrances into the building. The policies are listed on the library’s website under library info. Both staff and patrons have easy access to the policies to help enforce them, if need be. Though exceptions are sometimes made for policies, having a clearly defined rules of conduct not only benefits staff, but it does patrons. In the event of needing to ban a patron having clearly defined policies aids in library staff being able to do their job efficiently and creating a staff environment for patrons. In relation to Time for Two’s, the policies for the storytime are listed on the brochures and align with Youth Services policies in case there is ever an issue.

Collections and collection management

The collection is limiting in the adult collection and liberating in the children’s section. While the adult collection is a good size, many of the books are outdated, falling apart, and are not attractive. The collection circulates fairly well and staff has just completed a large weeding process and are in the process of filling the gaps created. Youth Services is liberating in the sense that almost all areas have at least one book on the topic, whatever that may be. The number of books, if not the space, is relatively equal across the different areas, which include pictures books, juvenile fiction, juvenile and young adult non-fiction, and young adult books. Youth Services staff work together to create wish lists for ordering and work together to identify and fill any gaps and fulfill patron requests as often as possible. In relation to Time for Two’s, the storytime is aided by the collection development and management by having a wide variety of picture books for storytime readalouds and for caregivers to check out to extend the experience of storytime at home.

Electronic resources and technology assessment

The assessment of electronic resources and technology is liberating, but the plans for new technology is limiting as it relies on funds being available to upgrade equipment and those are not always available. There is a technology assessment and action plan in place, but all of the proposed changes are contingent upon funds. However, the plan outlines the changes needed in each department over the years along with goals of how to keep technology up to date. It does not say who will perform the assessment though it is assumed the library director will be the one doing so. The public internet computers receive the most use and are most likely to suffer the most abuse yet are also the area most important to keep up to date, other than staff computers.

Technical services and reference services

Technical services and reference services are liberating. Reference staff most often field technical questions from patrons and provide opportunities for patron training on their own devices on a one-on-one basis and and monthly programs for training. In addition, the public internet access computers are located in the reference area of the library and reference staff often help patrons navigate using the computers. The library also has free wifi for all though the wifi is often slow as the bandwidth is shared with several other city buildings. There are Internet access computers in all areas of the library—Youth Services, the Teen Area, and Reference—to accommodate computer use for all ages. The Internet access computers, printers, copier are invaluable resources for patrons who may not have access to these technical services anywhere else. In relation to Time for Two’s, there are no technical services being offered, but staff and the storytime performer will often field reference questions as parents search for books for their little ones to take home.

Library systems and library networks

The library system is liberating. Kingsport Public Library is part of the Organization of Watauga Libraries consortium with 15 other libraries. The libraries share their catalogs and books. A courier comes three times a week to KPL with books requested from other libraries. KPL also participates in R.E.A.D.S., which gives patrons further access to ebooks and eaudiobooks. In addition to the courier, the library also offers Interlibrary Loans for those libraries not in the consortium. Though the library does not have the funds or space to possess all the books patrons would like being in a consortium allows for more access, as most books are only a request away. The library system does not directly relate to Time for Two’s as there is no technology used in the program.

User instruction and customer services

User instruction is liberating. KPL offers weekly job and resume workshops, monthly computer labs, photography workshops several times a year, and health seminars. In addition, staff often provide user instruction on a more informal basis as patrons come in with questions about how to use the library computers, copier, printer, or come in with questions about their own devices. Patrons also ask how to access library resources on their phones or computers, like R.E.A.D.S and the online databases available to patrons. Customer services can be limiting at times. Past surveys and comments made indicate that patrons are not always pleased with the customer service they receive at the main circulation desk, however, they are often the people who have to enforce the rules, so it is unclear if negative customer service is being provided or if the patron is simply unhappy with the answer. The rest of the areas of the library, in years past, have reported positive customer service experiences. In relation to Time for Two’s, the survey responses indicated that everyone was extremely satisfied with storytime and Youth Services staff.

Adult and/or youth services

Adult and Youth Services are liberating. This is not to say that there is room for improvement, because there certainly is, but overall the services are liberating. Adult services offers program for many stages in an adult’s life from the necessity of obtaining a job to the hobbyist of photography and to the information seeker for health. Adult services also include the Internet access computer, vital to so many, and the yearly scavenger hunt during a local festival. However, there are certainly gaps in Adult Services, especially in regards to programming, as there are no crafts or arts, no fandoms, and very little for new adults and senior citizens.

Youth Services provides an array of programs and materials for youth age 0 to age 18. Storytime is offered for children from 2-5 and a bi-weekely book league meets for 6th-12th graders along with quarterly Teen Advisory Group, which is also for 6th-12th graders. During the summer, professional performers come in to provide programs for the elementary aged patrons. Youth Services has Internet access computers to children up to age 18 and literacy computers for those learning concepts. However, there is obviously a gap there. The youngest of the library do not currently have program designed for them. Staff hopes to start a lapsit program in the fall for babies under the age of two. Elementary students have no programs during the school year, except for Paws to Read, and staff hope to also start a monthly program for elementary students in the fall.

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341

Phone:865-974-2148
Fax:865-974-4967
Email