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Part 1: The PL Context

Abstract: This project will focus on the Nashville Public Library system (NPL) in the Nashville-Davidson County area, serving around 650,000 residents of which 330,000 have library cards. The project will analyze and assess the Studio NPL service of the library system, which functions as a teen center. The overall project will focus on the number and quality of services provided by Studio NPL as a part of the NPL system. This first section will observe data trends and goals of the Nashville Public Library system.

1. The PL Context (10 Points)

You will be assessing/evaluating a select service for a PL. This first activity asks you to assess the PL agency and its setting and discuss its mission, vision, and strategic activities in the context of potential service(s) to assess and evaluate. Provide answers to the following questions and identify issues about the context pertinent to user-centered assessment/evaluation.

1 Identify your PL agency. Characterize the nature of the agency, its setting (size, system/branch, location, library governance, etc.), and the people who are employed in it. What kind of organization is it? What are its members like? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Nashville Public Library (NPL) is a twenty-one branch system that services all of the residents of Davidson County, Tennessee with availability to residents of other counties. The user base of NPL includes the over 650,000 residents of Davidson County, who have a higher diversity in terms of age and ethnicity than the rest of the state (United States Census Bureau, 2013). Registration is available at no additional cost to any resident of Davidson County with non-residents requiring a yearly fee of $50. The majority of funding in the library system comes from taxpayer funding, who directly contribute to over 80% of the 24 million dollar yearly budget (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015).

The library system is under the purview of the mayors office, a post currently held by Karl Dean. His appointed Director of the Library System is Kent Oliver, who oversees the entirety of the system. The system directly supports 366 workers, who are divided into three major categories: Circulation, Reference, and Support Staff (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015). These workers are in charge of maintenance, upkeep, and day to day running of the library system under the direction of the Mayor and Director's goals. The Nashville system gives the Director significant autonomy in how the branch is run in consultation with the Mayor. The budget for the library is small in consideration of the large budget of Davidson County, accounting for only 1.2% of the 1.89 Billion dollar budget (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015). Further, a significant foundation support system exists, which attracts celebrities like Nicole Kidman for a spotlight that gives a large portion of funding to the system.

The Nashville system excels in the category of providing innovative and creative services under the slogan "Books Are Only Half the Story" (Nashville Public Library, 2015). NPL has worked in providing a larger selection of materials in different formats as well as providing creative outlets and programming to the community at large across the demographic spectrum. A large portion of the budget is spent on print materials, there has been an eightfold increase in the last five years in the amount of downloadable materials such as ebooks and audiobooks made available for the patrons (Metro Nashville Government, 2014 ). This initiative also includes alternative formats like "Playaways," which are audiobooks in an mp3 type player the size of a palm. At the same time, creative programming such as the Studio NPL, a teen service, is providing new technologies, such as 3D printing, available for teens to explore.

A weakness of the system are the direction of the system as well as the facilities. Although there has been a significant investment in new branches on an individual basis, the overall change is occurring one or two branches at a time, meaning some branches fall behind in terms of emphasis and importance (L. Shepard, personal communication, Feburary 4, 2015). Further, the library systems goals are still under consideration and in development, a new action plan only being distributed to the public in the last three months with goals that are for the public consumption, such as providing new materials and retaining the best workers.

2 Summarize the PL organization's mission, goals, and objectives.

The Nashville Public Libraries mission statement was last updated in 1996 and is as follows:

  • Extending the benefits and joys of reading, lifelong learning, and discovery to all people through collections and services;
  • Promoting the value and power of knowledge, essential in an informed democracy, by providing open and equal access to the records and opinions of the world;
  • Providing emerging technologies and instruction as a gateway to information resources within and beyond our walls;
  • Serving the community with integrity and skill;
  • Providing an environment welcoming to all people which serves as a gathering place within the community;
  • Preserving and sharing across generations the wisdom, culture, and history of our community (Nashville Public Library Mission Statement, 1996).

The goals of NPL change from year to year, what is notable is the outlined goals in each year's budget:

Neighborhood Services & Programs - restoring Friday hours at Branches.

Information Explosion - To have the citizens of Nashville experience a significant improvement in the quality and relevance of the library's collections to meet their information needs.


Digital Divide - For the citizens of Nashville to have greater access to free computers as well as expanded opportunities for learning broad-based computer applications and electronic resources (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015).

Both the stated mission statement and the goals outlined from year to year show a clear movement forward in the direction of library systems. The Mission statement, which is now nearly twenty years old, serves as the basic framework of where the library system wishes to grow while the goals serve as the short term ideals. The goals of the next year show a desire to bridge the information gap between various age demographics as well as increasing access to all the users of the system.

3 Provide an analysis of the PL in terms of its rationale, vision, market, offerings, and capabilities (see Ch. 3, Matthews 2004, p. 29).


Nashville Public Library is cataloged in the budget as "general services," however what is more telling is that the budget justifications for NPL qualify under the term "Livability" (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015). NPL is seen in the budget as a priority of access and quality of life in the county in the same category as the parks and recreation department to the point where they are organized in the same part of the budget. NPL is then in existence for the improvement of quality of life in the county through access to materials that provide knowledge and entertainment to the community.


Although there is no explicit vision statement, the website has a clear succinct statement of "Inspire reading, advance learning and connect our community" (Nashville Public Library Mission Statement, 1996). Based off of this statement, the direction of where NPL wishes to go can be contrasted with the actions outlined in the budget. Over the last five years, a major push has been in providing more available information resources as well as more accessibility to the system with technological infrastructure. The method that the system is using to accomplish this is by attempting to secure funding for longer hours, more funding for materials, and securing new technologies for patron use (L. Price, personal communication, March 15, 2015).

Market Demographics and Offerings

The NPL system serves the widest demographic spectrum in the state of Tennessee, having only around 65% of the county identifying as "white" according to the last Census information (United States Census Bureau, 2013). This diversity is reflected in the collection with multiple resources for an African American collection as well as Hispanic populations. NPL also considers the immigrant population by providing in the last year resources for immigrants seeking information about citizenship tests in both English and Spanish. Further considerations are made for the population over 65, which accounts for 11% of the population, through large print materials, the talking library, and accessibility for older patrons (United States Census Bureau, 2013). (See Appendix 1 for further demographic information)

The general population of adults and teens also have significant resources from which to use the library services. The NPL system is in coordination with the Metro Nashville Public School system to give students access to the NPL collection that can be delivered to the students school. NPL also provides after school activities for children and teens through high school which combines features of modern technology, video games, and cultural displays. Adults also have availability for improvement with public computers available for use and numerous events in coordination with the county government which include tax help and healthcare sign-ups (K. Buchholz, personal communication, March 2, 2015).


NPL has a twenty one branch infrastructure of materials in varying formats that accommodate 3.5 million visits by patrons in the last year alone (Tennessean, 2015.) This also has access to 879 public computers which saw an average of 70,000 computer uses a month. These structures work in tandem with the online resources available on the website ( which provide the avenue for ebooks and audiobook distributions to patrons devices. This is accomplished with the work of 366 employed workers that consist of librarians, circulation workers, support staff, and a pool of temporary workers (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015).

4 Describe the vision statement of the PL. What are the various roles that it performs? What are the PL's various service responses (see ASPL, p. 8-9).

Outline of Mission/Vision

"Inspire reading, advance learning and connect our community" (Nashville Public Library Mission Statement, 1996).

Although there is no explicitly stated vision statement, the above statement succinctly describes the goals of NPL as an organization. The organization of the system wishes to provide more connection to the community and wishes to accomplish this through technological infrastructure. For example, all three prongs of the expressed short form mission statement outline the goals of the organization in terms of inter-connectivity as well as the learning goals involved with a modern library system. Nashville Public Libraries performs both as a learning center as well as a space for knowledge growth that is independent of the system.

5 Develop a sample PL Values Statement (see Ch. 3. Matthews 2004, p. 34-35).

NPL does not have an explicit values statement aside from the goals outlined in the budget and the mission statement from 1996. However, from the information that can be culled through services provided and the direction of the system, a sample statement could be generated:

Nashville Public Library commits to providing the patron with:

  • Free and open access to current materials that educate the community
  • Complete satisfaction with customer service to ensure a warm environment
  • Continuous access to the latest technology for the services of the public
  • More availability of the facilities both on and offline for the patron
  • Emphasis on providing information and resources across the demographic spectrum
  • A commitment to responsible use of any funding given to the system

6 List various strategic aims of the PL and at least three specific library strategies in relation to potential services to improve.

In the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, three specific strategic aims are outlined as a plan for the new year, with justifications as to what needs most improving:

1: As library material circulation, library program attendance and use of public access computers continues to increase, the Library Board has indicated restoration of library hours for all facilities is a top priority.

2: Technology Infrastructure - with ever increasingly sophisticated patrons who expect technology from the library that rivals the experiences they get from Amazon, Apple and other commercial competitors, the Library must overhaul its Integrated Library system and website so checking out an eBook is as easy as buying one from Amazon.

3: Deferred Maintenance of Facilities is starting to have impact on the quality of our public service and the enjoyment of our patrons to enjoy our spaces. The five area libraries and the Main library are now all over ten years old and have begun to show their wear. New carpeting, furniture replacements, temperamental HVAC systems and buildings designed before the advent of the Playaway, iPad, Kindle or MP3 player are making it more difficult to provide quality service to our patrons (Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget, 2015).

7 If you could develop/extend one PL service to help this organization to be more helpful, what would it be? Why?

For this project, an expansion of the Studio NPL system of Nashville Public Library merits a potential consideration. Studio NPL allows a greater outreach towards the community of school age children as well as teenagers, a key demographic in the changing world of libraries. In an interview with Niq Tognoni, the head of Studio NPL, he outlined the space for teens in the library system: "its a 21st Century space for teens to come to the library and engage with digital literacy skills and learning opportunities that they might not otherwise have" (personal communication, January 30, 2015.). This Studio space is still currently under development and as of yet is only available at three branches: Green Hills, Southeast, and Bellevue.

This space is gathering more priority funding in the budget and seeks to be at all branches in some form or another in the coming years. This is intended to bring more teens into the library space for multiple avenues of exposure in digital formats for the improvement of engagement among the teenagers. This program is still in development and as yet not all plans have been made for expansion of the Studio project to every branch. However, in consultation with the Studio Coordinator, Niq Tognoni, these issues will be considered and assessed.


United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from Final Budget Book.pdf

Metro Nashville Government. (2014). Public Library Financial Information. Nashville, TN.: Office of Management and Budget.

Nashville Public Library Mission Statement. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from Final Budget Book.pdf

Nashville Public Library Mission Statement. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Hance, M. (2015, January 25). Visit the 'library of the future;. Tennessean, p. 12E.

Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from Final Budget Book.pdf

Nashville Public Library Mission Statement. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from Final Budget Book.pdf

Appendix A: Nashville/Davidson County Demographics

86.4%- High school graduates 35.9% - Bachelor's degree or higher graduates 21.6% - Persons under 18 years 10.9% - Persons 65 years and over 65.8% - White persons 28.1% - Black persons 9.9% - Persons of Hispanic or Latino Origin 3.2% - Asian persons 2.3% - Persons reporting two or more races 0.5% - American Indian and Alaska Native persons 0.1% - Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons 15.5% - Language other than English spoken at home 11.7% - Foreign born persons $47,335 - Median household income 18.5% - Persons below poverty level

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

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