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Part 3: Service to Assess/Evaluate

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 third section describes the service that is to be investigated, Studio NPL.

3. Service to Assess/Evaluate (15 Points)

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

The service that will be evaluated is the Studio NPL, a teen service intended to be a space for the middle and high school groups to explore new technologies and enhance digital literacy. This service is currently at five of the twenty-one branches in the Nashville Public Library system, with potential expansion for all of the branches in "tiers" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). The key part of this service is that it is still for the most part in the developmental stage, and interviews with the coordinator as well as teen librarians show that there could still be large changes to the program (M. Ramos, personal communication, January, 29, 2015). This provides an opportunity to see the movement of a program in flux while still providing services to the teen community.

Rather than being a collection to analyze, the service of Studio NPL is a potential connection to the community that will enhance the teen services section of the NPL system. The activities of the Studio system are dependent on the branches themselves and the teen librarians or persons in charge providing these activities for students on a daily basis. The current services are more artistic in form and are on a rotating basis between the five Studio locations, however the potential for rapid expansion merits analysis of the growth of the services (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

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.).

In Brief

Studio NPL provides an engaging teen services section that contains elements of after school care mixed with activities that range in terms of the activities provided. The activities that are intended for the program are a mix of entertainment as well as education, with video game systems being used alongside learning how to use 3D printers. Not all of the events are slated to be purely technological, as the most consistent event in the current stage of Studio NPL is the "Word Cypher," which allows for spoken word expression in either poetry, music, or spoken word (Studio NPL, 2015). Larger branches are slated to have rooms dedicated to Studio NPL services, while smaller branches may have a limited impact or influence.

An interview with the Studio Coordinator revealed the Tier 1 "Full Technology Package" for certain branches which would contain elements of 3D printing, Video game systems, vinyl cutting equipment, laptops, music equipment software, DSLR cameras, Video recording equipment, and basic robotics information. This would be only at the larger branches, with smaller branches containing a "mobile lab" smaller levels of equipment on a rotating basis to bring these projects to smaller branches (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). This mobile lab would allow for use of meeting room space as well as higher attendance of the young adult demographics if done correctly.

Who Uses and How Many Use Studio NPL

This service is intended directly for the young adult demographic, which comprises a large portion of the under 18 population, which is estimated at over 140,000 (Census Quickfacts, 2014). This means that a large part of the pull of the Studio is going to be targeted towards the age group of around ten through eighteen years of age. Niq Tognoni comments that the pull is intended to teens in order to provide a greater range of services to an often ignored portion of the community when it comes to services (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). At present, the daily attendance of the five Studio systems fluctuates between two and three hundred young adults per afternoon (S. Morse, personal communication, February, 5, 2015).

How Often Studio NPL is Used

At present with the four locations, the Studio NPL services are open in the afternoon, from around 3-5 pm on weekdays. Based on the account of two Studio NPL heads, the average count of users on a daily basis averages around fifty users at each Studio station (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). Among the potential users, Niq Tognoni comments that there will be among the branches: "Varying levels of Studio, from full operational technology package to different sort of levels of technology package" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). This tiered system allows for the greater potential for usage on a daily basis, with a possibility of usage on the weekends depending on scheduling.

Strengths/Weaknesses

The simple idea of providing the services of technological education to teens enhances their buy in to the library and its ideas of educating the youth. This is the function of the MacArthur Foundation which helped jump start the Studio program, meaning it is of significant importance to the library system (NPL Foundation, 2015). Since the focus is on young adults, the events can be tailored specifically to the teen patrons, increasing the likelihood of their interest in participating. Some of the highlights of Niq Tognoni's perspective is the openness of the system to at risk teens, who the coordinator measures success in the ability to tinker with technology and "hopes that the interest builds over time" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

Another key element of success that will be in use is the hiring and maintaining of mentors in both the real life fields that are being taught as well as educators who can build up youth population. This is different from the traditional mentality of bringing in tutors and educators on subject material, but could provide the benefit of seeing a more diverse set of educators outside of a school setting. At present the coordinator is still looking for the right people to fill these roles, but states that he is looking for "working professionals in particular fields that are going to talk real life careers and engage the students in learning opportunities" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

The largest detraction about Studio NPL is the difficulty in locating information about Studio NPL online, although it is on the main web page of Nashville Public Libraries, it is on the bottom of the page with no prominence. The social media footprint also appears to be lacking in terms of outreach as the Studio social media links are dependent upon Nashville Public Library links rather than being independently linked. Further, at present the Studio website shows a limited amount of information such as events and only a few links.

The coordinator, Niq Tognoni, also highlights the challenges of the program in keeping the Studio centers sustainable in the long term rather than being a short term set of goals. The strength of having a diverse set of mentors also shows as a drawback due to it being at the forefront of the teen services sector, stating that "I am having a hard time hiring because we are looking for a particular skill set" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). These challenges of organization show the difficulty in getting a program like this into a successful model dependent on the direction of the system.

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?

Studio NPL is inspired by the activities in Chicago in outreaching to young adults, a program known as "YouMedia" which provides similar as well as expanded services to at risk teens in the Chicago area (Urban Libraries, 2015). According to the NPL Foundation, the goal of Studio NPL is to: "connect teens with the mentors and tools necessary to inspire collaboration and creativity so they can write, record and produce original work for school or personal projects" (NPL Foundation, 2013). The goal of outreach to at risk teens serves the key element of teen services in large public library systems. Notably, the Studio coordinator came from Chicago, so his expertise has been used in order to enhance these ideas.

According to Niq Tognoni, NPL considers the Studio a top tier priority, taking in various elements of funding from the budget as well as donations from the NPL Foundation. Specifically the measure of success is two-fold: attendance of events as well as the growth of the minds of students. Measuring the attendance of the event as a basic quantification, but it is also enhanced by surveys in enjoyment as well as subject growth academically. The mentors the coordinator is hiring are asked to look for personal growth, both in self reporting and by observation (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

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.

The following terms were used on a Google search in order to determine the impact that Studio NPL is making on search engines:

  • Studio NPL
  • Teen Services
  • Nashville Teens
  • Nashville Library Teen Services
  • After School for Teens (in Nashville)
  • Nashville Public Library

The search for "Studio NPL" was by far the most direct search result, having information about the services directly on the web page as well as some minor information about Green Hills, the first Studio area to open. However, the other searches returned no information about Studio NPL, although the keywords searched for were described by either librarians or the coordinator for Studio NPL as the key elements of what the Studio is to provide. Notably, searches involving teen services with Nashville Public Library as an added keyword failed to provide a hit for Studio NPL.

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?

Currently due to the lack of presence in the system and the continuous development of the service, the best way to convey information is through word of mouth or by the library website. Another key element is the impact of walk-in visits to the services that are observed within the Studio area. There is currently some limited outreach towards schools and teachers to draw in potential users. There are also some fliers in the branches advertising for the Spoken Word. In the works are postcards as well as further community outreach to the schools and the community. Also for promotional materials some elements of "swag" to use the words of Niq Tognoni consisting of small items such as pens or usb drives (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

At present, the outreach of the program is severely limited due to the youth of the program overall. There is no definitive social media presence that is independent of the Nashville Public Library page nor is there any element of independent advertising. On the web page events there is no way to clearly see the Studio events available without narrowing the events calendar or visiting the Studio web page. Further, on the "Teen Web" section where there exists the greatest opportunity for advertising, there is no mention of Studio NPL and the events link only returns to the main events screen for the library system.

Considering the current avenues of outreach, the information distribution would be ranked as:

  • 1: Word of mouth by staff
  • 2: Word of mouth among patrons
  • 3: The posting of events on the web page
  • 4: The posting about events on social media

Further development of the best methods of outreach to the community in multiple avenues will have to be considered going forth in order to reach the most potential users.

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?

Based off of the initial observations of the number of young adults who come in to the Studio events, the initial actual demand seems on an upward trend as more information is given and more frequent events occur. Depending on the level of events that are seen at various branches, the potential demand could be even higher if there is enough outreach to the community in order to draw in young adults who have more choices of what to do with their time after school. A post about Studio NPL on Urban Libraries reveals an important statistic: Of those surveyed on their enjoyment of the program, 89 percent of them enjoyed the program, 90 percent stated they would return, and 87 percent would recommend the program to a friend (Urban Libraries. 2015).

The best opportunity for expansion is by having the teen community have their interest piqued through demonstration events either in person, through schools, and through social media. NPL already has a coordinating effort to bring materials to students through the Metro Public School system, generating an opportunity for outreach as more of the facilities become live at branches across the county. Studio Coordinator Niq Tognoni comments on the potential events by creating an environment to "explore new technologies that are relevant to career and college pathways" (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015). This level of outreach can bring in students looking for more activities and further reach out to teachers as allies looking to encourage students to attend educational events.

With regards to the time line of this program, the amount of funding given through the MacArthur Foundation is dependent on both digital literacy as well as expansion of educational programs. The shelf life of particular programs depends on the technological advancements in the coming year as well as requiring room for more dedicated events as the program expands. However, as a part of the challenges of growing a teen oriented center inside the system, growing and adapting to the system can provide a way to gain lifelong users to the library system.

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.

At present, the Studio NPL system seeks to compete directly with the various educational after school programs across the area. The Nashville After Zone Alliance is a Metro service already in activity that Studio NPL will be coordinating with as another arm of the program. With the primary concern of after school activities, this would be in competition with the various volunteer services such as Hands On Nashville. This will be combined with coordination from Southern Word, who runs the Word Cypher events already in progress. Another library program, known as TOTAL (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates for the Library) provides events such as game nights and public discussions about current events to teens. Studio will eventually be the umbrella organization that will have some control if not full control of these events at Nashville Public Library (N. Tognoni, personal communication, January, 30, 2015).

For now there are no other major initiatives for Nashville after school programs aside from organizations such as the YMCA. Aside from these options, many teenagers are likely to either return home after school or go to jobs if employed. There still is a large segment of the population that is going to be close to a branch of NPL and therefore can be seen as a potential outreach.

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.

User-centered feedback would be an excellent opportunity for a burgeoning program that intends to keep the ideas and goals of young adults in mind while balancing the services that can be provided. The Studio service is at the forefront of teen services due to the potential impact on the education and growth of young adults in the Nashville area. In order to justify continued use of teen services, there has to be a mix of interest as well as actual attendance of the various programs and activities that are both actualized and planned. Being able to determine the interests and best methods of reaching young adults and keeping them engaged in the program is of an essential priority.

References

Adler, E. (n.d.). Studio NPL. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.urbanlibraries.org/studio-npl-pages-342.php

Studio NPL. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/studionpl/

Studio NPL: 21st Century Teen Learning Labs - Nashville Public Library Foundation. (2013, May 30). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://nplf.org/the-studio-npl/

United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/47037.html

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

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