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Danny Hussey
5. Developing an Evaluative Action Plan

Abstract

This research project will study the Obion County Public Library (OCPL) which serves Union City Tennessee and the surrounding county of Obion. The official population area served by the library is 31,340 people (oclibrary.org). This project will study the accessibility of charitable giving opportunities for library patrons.  Through a user-centered assessment tool this project will attempt to gather data in relation to three identified segments of the user community and how they interact with charitable giving opportunities at the library.

5.1 Develop a rationale to propose user-centered assessment/evaluation of the selected PL service. Assess the selected PL service carefully and explain your proposal in relation to participation of primary, secondary, and tertiary users identified in the earlier assignment.

To maximize the potential fundraising capacity of the Obion County Public Library in-depth understanding of user groups and how they interact with potential fundraising opportunities is necessary. This assessment aims to identify what user groups are donating funds, materials, and interacting with potential giving opportunities. This assessment attempts to also identify any short fallings or disconnects that may exist between the Obion County Public Library and potential donors and what user segment contains the most potential donors for the institution. The Obion County Public Library currently possesses three distinct user groups within the library user population. These segments include users under the age of 18, adults ages 18-55, and older adults who are 55 years and over (Obion County Public Library Survey).
According to the statistics retrieved from the library’s Integrated Library System called “Alexandria”, the library currently possesses 26,012 library card holders (oclibrary.org). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010-2012 American Community Survey, Obion County currently has a population of 31,340 people. This data combined shows that 83% of area residents have library cards. The largest population and primary audience are adults from age 18-55 according to birthdates submitted in library records. The primary user group at the Obion County Public Library is people age 18-55, this accounts for approximately 13,370 library cards found in the library system records. The Obion County Public Library’s secondary audience is adults over the age of 55. This accounts for 8,273 library cards in the library records. The tertiary audience is children under the age of 18 which accounts 6,957 children in the serving area.

5.2 Identify the problem (related to your selected service) in terms of: production bottlenecks; tasks that are performed frequently; activities that require frequent movement; and declining budgets.

The Obion County area remains a very economically challenged area of Tennessee. Median family incomes are $40,516 ($12,530 below the national average), and 17.1% of families in Obion County are below the poverty level (U.S. Census, 2008-2012). The Obion County Public Library is within an area specific to scarcity of financial resources and limited in staff and support personnel. Issues with budgetary constraints and limitation of meaningful advertising limit access to charitable giving. The staff does not have a dedicated fundraising or grant coordinator and communication to user groups about the need for charitable gifts is limited. Additional communication and structure is needed to reign in proper funding to extend needed library programs. Strengthening budgetary accountability, fundraising and communication is needed to help bolster the growth of charitable giving at the Obion County Public Library.
The Obion County Public Library publicizes its charitable giving opportunities through print, on-line, and word of mouth marketing. Very rarely are links featured on library social media pages such as Twitter or Facebook. Very little signage exists outside of the Giving Tree area signage. This signage area also includes a printed handout which describes the charitable giving options available at the library. This pamphlet is limited in scope and is not professionally printed. Other printed handout about donating materials, itemized tax receipts, and details about cash gifts are found within a printed handout behind the circulation desk. These brochures are administered when patrons ask about giving opportunities. The librarians do not know details about the specific ways to give.
Another fundamental production bottleneck is the creation and dissemination of charitable giving opportunities online. Many other nonprofit institutions such as churches and hospitals in the area include detailed descriptions of applicable giving services, and sample documents such as living will samples and other guidelines for bequeathing money and property to their organizations. The Obion County Public Library does not provide information about gift options to its online users through the online website.
Many tasks performed during the donation of items and materials are not developed enough to accurately communicate the giving process to users making donations. The criteria to determine whether or not the library accepts particular donated items and materials are at the discretion of the library director, according to the library policy. Many times due to limited space the library cannot accept artifacts, art objects, unless they are of outstanding local historical significance. Library gift items such as books, magazines, and manuscripts are always accepted but documentation provided during the donation process describes that items are not guaranteed to enter the library collection. Often times this is not described to the user making the donation. Users often struggle with understanding why a donated item did not go into the library collection. This is the most noteworthy disconnect between users and the organization that stems from undeveloped procedures of how to communicate with donors. Activities regarding charitable giving and the dispersal of information about potential ways donors can help the library must be further developed. Rekindled commitment to donor communication with technology, such as with webpages, can help make communication be more effective and help to grow charitable giving participation.

5.3 Determine the scope of analysis in terms of what specific information/aspects about the selected PL service do you hope to gain by eliciting feedback from the PL users. In other words, what is the purpose for doing the evaluation? Is the library attempting to improve its operational efficiencies (internal focus), or is the study being done to better understand the effectiveness of a library service? Explain in detail.

This analysis is being performed as to better understand the effectiveness of charitable giving services at the Obion County Public Library. Charitable fundraising is intrinsic to fulfilling the organization mission statement. The Obion County Public Library mission statement is to “enrich and improve the lives of the citizens of Obion County by providing them with a wide range of meaningful library materials and quality experiences” (oclibrary.org). The notion of fundraising extends to the vision statement, strategic plan goals, and objectives. A considerable amount of charitable funding is necessary to help to pay for the children’s summer reading program, teen programming and services, and material purchases (Obion County Public Library Financial Report 2013).
This evaluation has three main objectives. The first is to determine which charitable giving services the user is most likely to use, and to find suggestions for improvement of existing giving options.  Each question of the evaluation will help to determine the direction of charitable giving services at the Obion County Public Library. The second objective is to understand the current effectiveness of the delivery methods of communication about charitable giving at the library.  This objective aims at understanding which communication methods work best with particular user groups.  The third objective is to better understand what users have participated in charitable donations previously and the potential frequency and likelihood of charitable giving in regards to what method of giving options would be used in the future and for what reason the user would be willing to give.

5.4 Determine the kinds of data that you hope to gather (be specific). What evaluation methodology and design will be used (quantitative and/or qualitative methods: be very specific in the types of tools that will be employed)? How will data be collected?

This evaluation attempts to gather various types of data to ascertain how effective the Obion County Public Library’s current charitable giving services are and what can be done to improve current services in the future. This data will manifest through qualitative and quantitative feedback from the incorporated survey method. The survey is designed to gather elements of both qualitative and quantitative feedback. Several open ended question will be used as a component of qualitative feedback and closed ended questions will be used to derive quantitative feedback. The survey design used is minimal in size and scale as to preserve the user’s time and effort and help ensure more surveys are completed.  The survey sample is an opt-in format which will help to cultivate an effective sampling procedure. The instrument uses a number of quantitative and qualitative measures. The survey will attempt to determine how often the user donates to nonprofit organizations and how often, if ever, the user has been communicated with about the need for charitable contributions at the Obion County Public Library. If any of these responses are positive, the survey will give the opportunity to provide details about how this communication occurred and the effectiveness of the interaction. The overall goal is to be able to provide information to the library staff so that they can improve the methods, processes, and procedures used to acquire charitable gifts and also gain better insight into potential user groups that should be targeted by particular methods of interaction.
Data will be collected via paper forms left at the library survey table found adjacent to the circulation desk. This desk is the position used frequently to deploy surveys aimed at user feedback. A survey box is also found in this area which allows for completed forms to be placed within a sealed box upon completion. This survey will consist of less than 20 questions and will be a front and back form on one sheet of paper. Data collection will take place over 6 business days at the institution for a total deployment of one complete week.

5.5 Describe the user-centered assessment/evaluation strategies that you are proposing to conduct community analysis and gather feedback from users about the selected service at your PL. Identify and analyze what methods you will use to gather feedback from various kinds of users as a part of your efforts. How do you propose getting access/permissions to select users? Provide a timeline for implementing your proposed methods.

Data from the integrated library system suggests that a wide range of users visit and use their library cards on site at the Obion County Public Library. Using paper survey forms on site at the institution helps to ensure a broad pool of library users complete the form. In the case of charitable giving, online survey submission with instruments such as survey monkey and other online solutions will not be pursued due to the nature of the “digital divide”. Digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology (Techtarget.com). Many times large populations of users do not have access or skills necessary to access and complete forms via an online interface. Data from circulation statistics, computer checkout, and event registration recorded by the library automation software indicate a broad range of user age groups visit the library site daily. ‘Visiting user’ data suggests that a large majority of onsite users are over the age of 55 (ILL report). As noted in assignment 2 of this study, Wealth is more accessible than ever for rural libraries due to 74 million baby boomers coming of age. Estimates today reveal that if the number of baby boomer coming of age were to give just 2 percent of their estimated wealth away, it could equal revenue in excess of $500 billion to $1 trillion in new gifts for charity(Schultz, 2014). The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey for Obion County in 2013 shows that 26.4% of the population served is over the age of 55. The proportions of library users are skewed toward patrons over the age of 55, making it the largest population and primary audience for charitable giving. These users account for approximately 13,370 library cards found in the library system records.
The deployed survey is short and designed for the user to complete in a timely manner. There are no issues about obtaining access to Obion County Public Library users are the library administration has signed off on the final survey questions and implementation. After completion of the survey, it was shared with the director for feedback and approval. The survey was deployed to users on Wednesday April 1st. It will remain active until Wednesday April 8th. Analysis of the initial responses will begin on Thursday April 9th.

5.6 Share the data collecting instrument that you propose to use. Identify the qualitative and/or quantitative measures you propose to use (what aspects are you trying to measure). Provide strategies to gather consent (consent forms, assent forms as appropriate) and your data-collecting tool(s) with listed questions/prompts, etc. You can explore multiple research methods to gather user-centered assessment/evaluation of the selected service.

Please take a moment to answer this anonymous survey about the library. All questions are optional.
What is your age?
 Under the age of 18
 Adult ages 18 - 55
 Older adult over 55
Are you a male or female?
 Male
 Female
Have you ever donated to a nonprofit institution?
 Yes
 No
If so, what type of organization did you make your donation?
 Library
 School
 Church
 Hospital
 Other _____________________
How often do you donate to this organization?
 Annually
 Bi-Annually
 Monthly
 Bi-Monthly
 Rarely
 Never
Have you ever donated to the Obion County Public Library?
 Yes
 No
Are you familiar with the Obion County Public Library Giving Options?
 Yes
 No
Have you ever received information by mails, in person, or online about Charitable Giving Options at the library?
 Yes
 No
Please tell us how much you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.
The organization provided the information I needed to make a decision on making a donation.
 Strongly Disagree
 Disagree
 Undecided
 Agree
 Strongly Agree
The organization effectively communicated its need for donations.
 Strongly Disagree
 Disagree
 Undecided
 Agree
 Strongly Agree
My questions about donations were answered respectfully and completely.
 Strongly Disagree
 Disagree
 Undecided
 Agree
 Strongly Agree

Please tell us how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with each of the following.

How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for being a donor?
 Very Satisfied
 Somewhat Satisfied
 Satisfied
 Somewhat Dissatisfied
 Dissatisfied
 Undecided
How satisfied are you with the method by which the organization makes requests for donations? 
 Very Satisfied
 Somewhat Satisfied
 Satisfied
 Somewhat Dissatisfied
 Dissatisfied
 Undecided
How satisfied are you with the benefits (perks) you receive for being a donor?
 Very Satisfied
 Somewhat Satisfied
 Satisfied
 Somewhat Dissatisfied
 Dissatisfied
 Undecided
Overall, how satisfied are you with the relationship between the organization and yourself as a donor?
 Very Satisfied
 Somewhat Satisfied
 Satisfied
 Somewhat Dissatisfied
 Dissatisfied
 Undecided

Use the provided blank space to provide your response
Do you think public libraries are worthy candidates for charitable donations? Explain.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If you were to make a donation to the library what area of the library would you most like to benefit? Children’s programming? Literacy? The library collection? A memorial for a loved one? Explain.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The above survey instrument has a number of quantitative and qualitative measures. The survey attempts to profile individuals on the frequency of charitable gift giving they make, what areas and organizations they value for charitable gifts, the methods in which they receive communication about potential gift giving, and the feedback they receive when making a charitable gift. The survey seeks to ascertain where users make gifts and how much they know about potential charitable gift options at the Obion County Public Library. The survey is designed to be completed in less than 10 minutes. The survey is given in a paper form and is in direct access of a high traffic area of the library near the main circulation area. Circulation librarians often ask users to take the survey when completing transactions at the main desk. Users are free to complete the survey while standing near the large desk the survey and box are placed on.

5.7 Provide strategies to maintain anonymity and confidentiality of users participating in your study (if appropriate).

Only limited demographic data is being collected. This includes gender and age. This protects the identity of the user and provides a level of anonymity for completing the survey. The only access to the survey responses will be the researcher and library director. This research presents no potential harm to any user who participates in the research.

5.8 Create a budget in terms of investment of resources (e.g., money, time, efforts, human input, etc.) to orchestrate user-centered assessment/evaluation of various kinds. Identify stages for orchestrating a plan for the PL (e.g., previous efforts made, current efforts, future efforts) and describe what will be feasible as part of your efforts in this course during this semester.

Human resources, time, and printing cost are the main investments of the project. 50 evaluation forms were printed at an organization cost estimate of .04 cents per print. This is a total cost of 2.00 dollars, which the organization agreed to cover for access to the information gathered. After completion of the survey instrument, the survey was presented to the library director and signed for implementation. The Obion County Public Library graciously received the implementation of this evaluation as communication from institutional leadership reflected a need for this information. No research has been done previously to discern information about user groups and correlation to charitable giving. The original survey was deployed for one week in the initial research phase of the project. As the project was devised the library director played an important role in the research process. The organizational leadership designated space for the evaluation table and submission box. The researcher deployed the survey for a one week period and gathered the submissions after being deployed one week for 6 operating business days. Upon completion of the one week deployment information was analyzed.  

5.9 Determine the kinds of analysis you will do with the data collected. How do you plan to report the findings based on the data collected?

The data will be reported in aggregate form and will include analysis in addition to information regarding the mean, modal, and median responses. Data will be used to determine profiles and patterns in demographic information in regards to responses. The types of giving a frequency of giving will be analyzed and cross-cut based on demographic data as to identify what user groups correlate with responses and what patterns (if any) exist.  Open ended responses will be read and tabulated to reveal about common themes. The findings will be placed within a report to be given to the library director and included within the next section of this research project.

References

Obion County Public Library. (2015). Obion County Public Library. http://oclibrary.org/.
Obion County Public Library Financial Report. Yearly Report 2013 – 2014. Union City, TN: Author.
Obion County Public Library Survey. Yearly Survey 2013 – 2014.
Schultz, K. Planned giving is alive and well!. Planned Giving Today, 22, 1. Retrieved June 9, 2014, http://www.liebertpub.com.proxy.lib.utk.edu:90/publication.aspx?pub_id=235
U.S. Census Bureau. 2010-2013. American Community Survey. Obion County, Tennessee. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_3YR_DP02&prodType=table.
U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012. American FactFinder. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk
What is digital divide? (n.d.). Retrieved April 1, 2015, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/digital-divide


Spring 2015

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