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Part Seven: User-Centered Assessment/Evaluation in PL Services

Part Seven User-Centered Assessment/Evaluation in PL Services (10 Points)

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 seventh section details the impact of this assignment on the library system itself as well as what the evaluated program, Studio NPL, contributes to the library system.

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

The Nashville Public Library system has a small board, headed by the Director, Kent Oliver, who reports to the Mayor of Nashville Karl Dean (Nashville Public Library Board, 2015). The board authorizes decisions that are recommended by the various committees and conduct the business of outlining the strategic vision of Nashville Public Library. Within the library system, there is a clear structure of reporting systems to the Director connecting to the various departments. Within the focus of this project, the Studio system reports to the Director as a department head and has direct access to contributing to the discussion of the library system, making it a liberating factor.

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

The identity of Nashville Public Library is understood by its slogan "Books are Only Half the Story," which brings the greatest liberating factor to Studio NPL. The current mission statement available to the public is the same one from the 1990s, so it has not been updated in quite some time (Nashville Public Library About, 2015). However, this is supplanted more by the strategic aims, which were published in a small brochure in late 2014. These strategic aims outlined the ideas for the future goals of Nashville Public Library, which included hiring a more diverse staff, outreaching to more potential users, providing more in depth services, among others. These generalized goals and vision statements could be a liberating factor if they were more fleshed out and updated.

Community analysis and needs assessment

User input is constantly sought across the system in order to engage the public as to the perceptions of the actions taken. Multiple public input sessions have occurred before renovations have been planned at branches, for example at Edmondson Pike, which had a public information session about potential renovations in Fall 2014 (L. Price, personal communication, 15 January, 2015). The system as a whole has a vested interest in gathering the opinions of active and potential users of all demographics, which it currently does through surveys and open forums. At present there is no major announced community analysis, but it is more than likely that community needs are always considered when making any changes. However, the ability to clearly ask early and often for patron and community input is a massively liberating factor for this system.

Marketplace dynamics/advertising

At present, there are multiple avenues of advertising in order to get the word out, although they are in relatively limited capacity overall. All events are posted on the library web page under the events section, as well as certain events being highlighted on social media pages run by the system. However, the social media impact is limited and the web page has a limited search function by which events can be located. In order to further expand the potential for marketplace impact, a restructuring of the social media strategy is required in order to gain a larger foothold into the community. The current marketplace advertising is a limiting factor with the inability to create a large space for Studio to deliver information.

Evaluation action plan

For the Nashville Public Library system, there is limited planning with regard to the evaluation action plan aside from standard methods of surveying teens and formulating their input. This is done on a regular basis through requests for surveys on occasion. These informational surveys are done through an open method either during or after events. There are also some limited surveys done through a suggestion box style which allows for privacy of the user when completing these forms. The lack of an overt action plan allows the question to remain unanswered as to if the Nashville Public Library system has any major contingency plans for Studio, a major limitation.

Assessment and evaluation methods

At present, the feedback of library services at Nashville Public Library is user-oriented to determine their interests in the future events that could be provided. There is a second category of quantitative data that tabulates the various aspects of the services provided such as program attendance, material selection, check outs, and reference questions among others. The goal of this data collection is to see the numerical impact of community involvement in the library system (K. Barber, personal communication, 26 June, 2014). Currently in the Studio system, limited surveys and door counts as well as direct feedback provide the best evaluation methods. These methods can be immensely useful, but limited in scope and response.

Personnel management

All of the employees of Nashville Public Libraries are considered Civil Servants of Metro Nashville General Government. Within the system itself, there is division of the branches with the larger branches containing separate departments of reference and circulation and smaller branches containing an integrated staff. Separate from the branch system, there are specific services sectors that are mainly housed at the Main branch in downtown Nashville such as Public Technology and the Studio system. The Studio umbrella is a mix of hired staff as well as non-Metro employees in order to fill the gaps of the workforce. This separation of powers is a slightly liberating factor due to the freedoms of being able to locate the right workers for positions across the system.

Finances

The current budget for Nashville Public Libraries is on the rise, with $22 million in the 2015 fiscal year and a request for $24 million in the 2016 fiscal year (Nashville Public Library Budget, 2015). From this, Nashville Public Library has been able to expand its teen program into multiple branches as well as expand their selection of electronic and print formats. No information is provided for how much of the funding specifically goes for the Studio system, however the continuous rise in funding for the Nashville Public Library system as a whole implies there are funding increases across the board. As long as the budget priorities expand with the city, the added emphasis on libraries will prove to be a liberating factor for the system overall.

Policy development

All policy is developed by various committees that are related to the work of libraries. For example the circulation policy is handled within the circulation policy committee. However, all potential changes in policy must be run through the Director of the libraries, Kent Oliver, before becoming fully implemented. Through this method, the policy committees can allow for practical experience to combine with staff goals to find the best solution to issues facing the library system. Based off of the interviews taken across the semester, there are no specific committees for the Studio program, however the impact of policies are likely to come from programming committees.

Collections and collection management

Within Nashville Public Library, there is a collection development department which handles all aspects of the collection and its management. There are tools used with the Collection Development department, such as Collection HQ, which allow for the branches to balance their collection in line with the rest of the system (K. Kinzer, personal communication, 12 March 2015). The collection development department also handles acquisitions and distribution across the system based off of the estimated need of the system as well as the practical need off of the holds that are requested. Notably, Studio does not have a specific collection for their own needs. The space for Studio is likely to contain part of if not the entirety of the Young Adult collection, but this is still considered separate from the Studio system.

Electronic resources and technology assessment

The library provides numerous electronic resources for the benefit of the users across all demographics. There is a format for ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, videos, music, and feature films across various platforms. The ability to instantly download materials either in the branch or remotely appeals to the more modern library system. Further, the ability to use computers in the library brings in various serviceable needs from job applications to computer literacy help. Studio environments are more of the specialty as a part of the system considering the high amounts of technology that are contained within the spaces, an extremely liberating factor.

Technical services and reference services

Reference services are handled across the system with the reference department when applicable. The smaller branches require circulation staff to also answer reference questions when necessary as the staffing is not available in some instances. At the larger branches, there is a dedicated reference department which handles a large majority of the queries.

Technical services does not have a major impact on the Nashville Public Library from a user perspective due to their lack of visibility but they play an important role behind the scenes. The impact of the technical services department is behind the scenes in ensuring all of the programs are completely functional for the use of the patron. Both of the services are only involved with the Studio facilities indirectly as only the technical services would be involved in making technology work if it malfunctioned.

Library systems and library networks

The Nashville Public Library system itself is a connection of twenty one branches that work in a symbiotic fashion. All of the branches can pull materials from each other and the catalog function works across the system to accomplish this goal. All branches will have programs that range in scope from cooking to movie screenings to political discourse which can appeal to any demographic. Further, materials that are not available to the users in the system itself can use the inter-library loan services in order to possibly locate materials as a secondary source. The Studio system does not connect with any other system but the mobile labs under development allow a sharing of materials to reach more teens across the county.

User instruction and customer services

For all age groups, having various educational and informative programs is an essential part of making the library system as diverse as possible. These events can include computer education or job training for adults or artistic expressions and cultural teachings for teens and children. The workers of Nashville Public Library constantly provide opportunities to educate the community on how to use the library facility and the services that are provided. Studio is specifically developed to provide user instruction in new technologies like 3D Printers or music development, a liberating factor that is key to the future success of Studio NPL.

Adult and/or youth services

There are distinct categories of services provided by Nashville Public Library that are separated by age group: Adults, Teens, and Children. Throughout the year there are numerous programs that are run for specific age groups such as children's story time, a music development program for teens, or computer education classes for adults. The events can also be part of an overall program session, such as the summer reading challenge which can be part of a theme. The Studio program is developed specifically for the teen demographic and caters to their needs rather than a broad appeal across the system.

References

Library Board. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.library.nashville.org/about/board_admin.asp

About Nashville Public Library. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.library.nashville.org/about/abt_about.asp

Nashville Public Library Budget: 2015. (2014, January 1). Retrieved April 19, 2015.

Spring 2015

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