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Service to Assess/Evaluate

Sarah Foster

University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Abstract

This assignment will be evaluating a service provided by the Leesburg Public Library. Leesburg Public Library is a member library of the Lake County Library System located in Central Florida. The library provides several services to the Leesburg city community, Lake County community, and seasonal residents. The Leesburg Library Literary Guild (LLLG) is an adult book club service provided by the Leesburg Public Library to Lake County Library System card holders. This service has been offered by the adult services department since 2010, and provides two chapters with twelve members in each (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

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

The Leesburg Library Literary Guild (LLLG) is an adult book club service provided by the Leesburg Public Library to Lake County Library System card holders. This service has been offered by the adult services department since 2010, and provides two chapters with twelve members in each. The meetings are held once a month in the library's board room that holds up to twelve individuals. The service is provided from October to May and covers seven book discussions. The library collects book club kits which contain ten regular print, two large print, and one electronic copy of each title. Book club kits are used to facilitate the library's book club but also are loaned to other libraries in the Lake County Library System book clubs, and community book clubs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

3.2 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.).

Who are the users:

LLLG Book club is available to individuals eighteen years old and older who have an active Lake County Library System card. There are two chapters which can facilitate up to twenty-four individuals total. "Members are mostly Leesburg residents, and all are female, 50+ library supporters and users", according to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015) at Leesburg Public Library.

How many users:

There are two chapters of the LLLG book club. Each chapter can hold twelve book club members. Based on documents which state the list of members, wait list notes, and sign-in sheets for the 2014-2015 book club (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015), chapter one book club currently holds thirteen members with two potential users on the waitlist, and chapter two book club currently holds nine members, not including two who have dropped from the book club because of illness. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"The daytime chapter (chapter one) maintains a full roster of twelve members, although meeting attendance is rarely at that number. The evening chapter (chapter two) roster has had at least two openings for the last two years, and attendance at those meetings is low."
Based on current sign-in sheet statistics (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015) for 2014-2015, chapter one has an average of 67% or a median of nine out of thirteen in attendance monthly, and chapter two has an average of 49% or a median of five out of ten in attendance monthly.

Attendance and potential user numbers can be explained by the time of day the book club meetings take place. Chapter one book club meets earlier in the day at 2:00 p.m. which works best with most of the current users and potential users. Whereas chapter two meets later in the evening at 6:00 p.m. for the convenience of those who work or are busy in the day. The latter time is inconvenient to some users because of inability to drive at night, or family commitments (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

How often is the service used:

The LLLG book club chapters each meet a total of nine times a year, seven book discussion meetings, one organizational meeting at the beginning, and one book selection meeting in March. At the book selection meeting all LLLG members meet to present and select seven titles for the next year's book club members. The book club service runs from September to May and lasts for eight months for each chapter, in order to receive and discuss all seven titles. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"September to May was chosen, instead of year round, because it is "snowbird" season. Many of the chapter members will travel in the summer to visit family, and some are out of state "snowbirds" who stay in Florida only for the winter months. Also, the library holds a large Summer Reading Program for adults and children, which takes up a lot of staff time, programing space, and programming time."
Chapter one starts in October and meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m., and chapter two starts in September and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. Book club chapter two starts a month before chapter one in order to ensure that all the items in the book club kit are returned in time for the next chapter's meeting (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

How are service items selected:

The LLLG book club members meet each year in March to select the next year's book titles. A month in advance, they are contacted by email, phone, and in person by a library staff member to notify them of the book selection process and materials available for book suggestions. The library supplies the book club members Book Pages, Publisher's Weekly, and NY Times Book Reviews to assist in the selection process. Most of the book club members have personal list of books they have read, or would like to read, that they suggest for the book club readings. The book selection process includes a book club member presenting a chosen book's title, author, what the book is about, and reviews. During the book selection process the Adult Services Supervisor compiles a list and searches in Baker and Taylor or Ingram for which items that can be purchased. Once all books have been suggested by the book club members, a ballot is made of the purchasable items and handed out and mailed by the next meeting for members to select their top seven. A staff member tallies the ballots, compiles the list based on most chosen items, and distributes the final list to the book club members. The Adult Services Supervisor then starts the ordering process for the book club kits (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Strengths:

According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31,2015), "Strengths include promoting reading and increasing circulation; promoting library events to active library supporters; encouraging a social group based on the love of reading; and providing a forum of intellectual discussion."

Book club meetings are led by the book club members. An Adult Services Library Assistant sets up the meeting room with sign in sheet, the coming month's book, book page, library newsletter, and flyers of adult services programs and classes. When able, the Adult Services Library Assistant will open up the beginning of the book club meeting by introducing upcoming library events, share book club concerns, and open the forum for book club members to share concerns and suggestions. The Adult Services Library Assistant then leaves the group to discuss the book alone. Both groups assign a member for each book to lead the discussion. Members can request for mass copies to be made of book reviews, and author bios that they have compiled, to assist in their discussion points (Adult Services Library Assistant, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Weaknesses:

According to the Adult Service Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015), "Weaknesses include the limited number of members, the staff time involved (selecting and ordering titles, processing them, preparing for meetings) and, conversely, the lack of adequate staff to fully facilitate the group and offer more leadership."

Currently the LLLG book club members fill twenty-two out of twenty-four spots with only an average of 67% and 49% attendance rating. The Adult Services Supervisor does all selecting and ordering of titles and manages the book clubs. An Adult Services Librarian Assistant corresponds with the book club members by email, phone, and in person and prepares the board room for book club meetings. All processing of book club items is done by the county and two Technical Services Library Assistants at the Leesburg Public Library. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015) neither the Supervisor nor Adult Service Librarian Assistant have the time to facilitate the book club with all the other duties that are required of them. Facilitation would include being present for all meetings, reading the books, preparing discussion questions, and leading the book club discussion (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

3.3 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?

Book clubs allow for individuals with varying backgrounds to share a common passion of reading and communication. This activity provides a situation for learning, sharing, friendship, escapism, and community. According to Sarah Twomey in Reading "Woman": Book Club Pedagogies and the Literary Imagination (2007, p.398-406) the history of women coming together to read and discuss was monumental to the history of education for women, and the feminist movement. "Women's literacy circles showed that they not only offered solidarity and reprieve from the isolation of domestication, but also were places of textual analysis and intellectual engagement (Twomey, 2007, p.402)."

The Leesburg Public Library offers the adult book club as an extra service to the community. For the few it serves, it enriches their lives and it is a sought after service by those few. The library expands its efforts beyond the LLLG book club to the larger community. The collection and development of book club kits is able to support local community book clubs and Lake County Library System book clubs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"I believe it is an important service to offer, even to the comparatively small segment we can accommodate (at least the way it is now structured). I feel we are a successful library even without offering the book club, but it adds to our image as serving the needs of readers. If we discontinued it, it would not feel good to say, "I'm sorry, we don't have a book club at our library" but I think our customers would still consider us a quality library whose function is to support the enrichment and education of our community."

3.4 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.

Most productive terms: Book Club
Leesburg Library Literary Guild
Discussion group
Literary group
Reading group
Book discussion group
Book Club kits
Leesburg Public Library book club
Adult book club
Adult services
Adult programs
Book Club book
Reading program
Book Program

3.5 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?

The Leesburg Public Library currently does not advertise the adult book club. There are a restricted number of spaces available in each book club. Having a limited number of member slots allows the collection development to be maintained at a reasonable amount for cost, space, and processing. The space provided to the book club for meetings is limited to a capacity of twelve individuals. Currently chapter one book club maintains yearly twelve members, and chapter two book club has had consistently two openings for the last two years (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). According to the Adult Supervisor (personal communication March 31, 2015), "If we were to advertise, we would limit it to the library's Facebook page and in-house newsletter, and it would only be for spaces in the evening chapter."

The book club has been established for the last four years and several current members started at that time. Outside of being established members, "Interested patrons--those who call or inquire in person about a book club--can add their names to a waiting list, and library staff will contact them when and if spaces are available. (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015)"

Methods of advertisement for the book club for at least the last two years have first been by patron inquiries (approximately 75%) and secondly word of mouth by current members (approximately 25%) (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

3.6 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?

Actual and Potential demand:

The Leesburg Public Library in the 2014-2015 season has had a total of twenty-four book club members enrolled, two have dropped because of illness, and a total of five have attended less than three times to meetings. Interest in being a part of a book club consist of having a social group of peers with common interest, and reading a wider range of different genres and authors. Current potential users consist of a waiting list of three individuals anticipating to be able to join for the 2015-2016 season. Wait list individuals have stated that interest in joining is based on friends who are already in the book club or wanting to be a part of a new or secondary book club. Based on the library having 21,500 registered city of Leesburg Lake County Library System card holders, there is not a high demand for the book club. Yet a significant enough demand for chapter one, that is held at 2:00p.m., that it exceeds the maximum occupancy. Even though it serves few and it is time and budget consuming, Leesburg Public Library takes pride in the ability to offer this extra service (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"the potential demand is not much greater than the actual present demand. The LLLG's current structure (limited number of members, dedicated private room, staff coordination, planning and scheduling) works well for two small, intimate discussion groups that are rarely attended by all members. I have received very few inquiries about whether we offer a book club."

The offering of book club kits to the larger community currently serves two other book clubs, Legacy community book club, and Cooper Memorial Library book club. There is a potential demand of six Lake County Library System libraries that offer book clubs. An increase of advertisement to the other libraries about the book club kits and open communication of what we can offer them would increase use. Some libraries have shown interest in the kits but expected more such as discussion guides. This may be a consideration that should be made to increase book club kit use, and useful to the LLLG book club to help guide them in discussions (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Stimulates interest:

Current interest in the library's book club increases during the winter months with the increased patron usage of the library by seasonal "snowbird" residents (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Since the book club services are not advertised or marketed it is assumed that use of such means would also increase interest. Although an increase in interest would require a change in the structure of the service in order to accommodate increased usage (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). According to the Adults Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 205), "a different structure (for instance, a discussion open to anyone, either facilitated by a regular member or by a volunteer) would most likely bring in a few new members--men, perhaps, or married couples, and younger people."

The Leesburg Public Library each year provides a Children's and Adult Summer reading program. The Adult Summer Reading Program consist of a contest drawing, where adult patrons (eighteen years and older) read or listen to books, rate the book, write a review of the book, at the end of the summer ten review slips are drawn and the patrons win a goody bag of items. The Summer Reading Program also consist of several adult programs that follow the reading program theme. A part of the programming this year will consist of a new formatted book club session, which will assess the interest of the larger community for book discussions (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). According to the Adult Service's Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"This year's Adult Summer Reading Program will offer two book informal discussions: a fiction book scheduled in the morning, facilitated by a staff member, and a non-fiction book on an evening, facilitated by a local retired teacher. I chose "Unbroken" for the nonfiction title because of its popularity and potential for appeal to men, and the facilitator is a man."

Life of the current structure:

According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015), "The life of our current structure is probably limited to five to ten years." This is based on that current members are 50+ with little outside interest from potential users. Eventually the book clubs will die out with the current members if there is lack of replacement (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

3.7 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.

Other service providers:

The city of Leesburg has one community book club located at Legacy of Leesburg retirement community for individuals fifty-five and older. The Legacy book club is an active user of the Leesburg Public Libraries book club kits (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). Lake County Library System has seven other branch and member libraries that offer book clubs, those are, Cooper Memorial Library, W.T. Bland Public Library, Marianne Beck Memorial Library, Cagan Crossings Community Library, Fruitland Park Library, East Lake County Library, and Lady Lake Public Library (Lake County Library System, 2015). The closest library to the Leesburg Public Library that offers a book club is Fruitland Park Public Library which is ten minutes away and the furthest is Cagan Crossings Community Library which is fifty minutes away.

Online book clubs are widely popular for book loving computer users. It provides a forum to see professional and nonprofessional book reviews, choose specific genres, lead your own discussions, or input comments without the concern of peer pressure or insecurity of speaking in front of others. After a Google search for, "online book clubs" out of the 70,000,000 results the top four were Onlinebookclub.org, Goodreads Groups, Booktalk.org, and My-bookclub.com. Online book clubs chosen have working links, discussion forums, selection of books or genres to read, free, and recent activity of members and book selections. My-bookclub.com allows an individual to join a discussion or create a discussion group. With a search of discussion groups by location two groups in the Lake County, Florida area had created a book discussion group located in Clermont, and Lady Lake (My-bookclub.com, 2011).

Need:

In the city of Leesburg there are only two book clubs that the library is aware of. Community book clubs are usually private or offered to only a select few who fall into a specific demographic. Unless the user has access to a community or private book club it is not a substitute for the accessibility of the public library's book club. It is most likely that if the current members were no longer able to get book club services at the Leesburg Public Library they would go to another library that is close by. Most members would not travel more than thirty minutes to be a part of a book club. This leaves four libraries near Leesburg Public Library that could provide book club services. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015),
"Our members are mostly Leesburg residents, so this library's offering is convenient for them. Some senior communities offer book clubs, and I have spoken with patrons (not necessarily LLLG members) who belong to two or more book groups. Our members are all female, 50+ library supporters and users, and they enjoy the in-person and social aspects of their meetings here."

The LLLG book club currently has all but three members who have an email address. This provides an assumption that a majority of the members have access to a computer and know how to use the internet. The Adult Services Supervisor is unaware if any of them participate in online book clubs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015). Although, online serviced book clubs could be a competitor for potential book club users that are more comfortable with indirect means of communicating their feelings or more selective about the types of genres they prefer to read. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, March 31, 2015), "I wouldn't consider that format a competition or a substitute for their face-to-face discussions here."

Overall because of locality there is not much risk to the need of the book club services. The biggest competitor are the four other public libraries that are thirty minutes or less from the Leesburg Public Library. These libraries would fit best with the type of in person services that the current users prefer. They also would be able to provide the space and books without the additional cost to the user. Whereas, community and online book clubs require the user to pay for or provide a personal space and pay for their own materials.

Affordable:

Current book club budget is,
"Book cost is approximately $1,000, based on a 35-40% discount by ordering through a book jobber such as B&T or Ingram (seven titles, ten regular print and two large print copies; one eBook copy through OverDrive where available). This year I plan to ensure we have an audiobook copy as well, so that will add about $250. Costs for photocopies and adhesive name tags are covered by Adult Services supply budget. (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015)"
In order to justify book cost the library lends book club kits to increase circulation to other book clubs once use by the LLLG book club is completed. Additional library cost includes staff paid time, and cost of the board room's utilities. Cost of library staff time preparing the board room and notifying book club members twice a month for book club meetings can be roughly calculated at $11.08 an hour with an average of two hours spent each month, an approximate total of $175.00 a season for one staff member. Cost, at this time, cannot be calculated for the time spent on collection development, cataloging, and technical processing of all the materials, which total to 98 items. Cost of utilities for the board room would be covered under general library facility cost. Cost to the user is free. (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Community book clubs must provide their own space either in their homes, at a community center, or meet in public establishments. Depending on their preference this could either incur no additional cost to the users or require a usage fee for renting a space or purchasing a product in order to use the space. All members will have to acquire books on their own through either purchasing, or borrowing. Cost for the user increases compared to using the libraries public service. Community book clubs within Leesburg could use the library's book club kits to reduce member expenses. As an alternative to the library's cost it is not feasible.

Other Public Library book clubs have a building and materials to provide book club services. The Public Library can choose to purchase the additional titles to meet the member's needs, or request that the book club members acquire books from the Lake County Library System collection or purchase on their own. Book club members could incur a cost if the library's book club requires them to purchase the book. For the most part services and materials would be free. The Leesburg Public Library could consider discontinuing book club kits and reduce cost by using what is already acquired in the Lake County Library System. Although, book club kits are invaluable to book clubs such as Cooper Memorial Library that use them.

Online book clubs require the members to have access to a computer, electricity, and internet. Although a computer is a one-time cost, additional cost goes into maintaining the technology. Internet and electricity is typically a monthly cost but is a cost that already is provided in the user's daily needs. Additional cost to the user would occur through the acquiring of the book. Online book club could be an alternative way for the Leesburg Public Library could expand its services. Especially to patrons who use the library services out of state or are incapable to make it to the library. The library could provide the book to online members through the Books by Mail service or the OverDrive e-book service. This could increase the cost to the library by requiring additional time of staff to maintain a book club online forum and cost of purchasing more e-books and providing books by mail. Cost to the online user would increase.

Overall, the most affordable book club service for a book club user would be the Leesburg Public Library's book club services. The Leesburg Public Library has the highest cost to provide such services. Cost could be reduced by discontinuing book club kits and using books that have already been acquired by the Lake County Library System.

3.8 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.

There is definitely a need to assess the book club service at the Leesburg Public Library. The Leesburg Library Literary Guild was established in 2010, since that time there has not been a formal evaluation of the services offered. With a formal evaluation of the service the library will learn if there is a greater interest outside the current user base, who are the competing book clubs, where are the users coming from, are the users pleased with the service or is there need for change, and could a change in accommodations peak interest in the service and bring in a greater variety of individuals.

Currently the LLLG book club does not have a library staff member to be actively involved in the proceedings of the book club discussions. This limits the staff's knowledge of what is occurring in book club meetings and the personalization with users. Through a combination view evaluation, "differences that may exist between customer expectations and the quality of service actually delivered (Matthews, 2007, p.5)" will be seen. A quantitative tool such as a survey conducted by the book club members may produce qualitative insight as to whether the book club service is meeting the expectations of the user (Matthews, 2007, p.12). The library already has quantitative statistics, based from the sign in sheet, of the number of active users and the percentages of meeting attendance. Through informal communication the library also can provide some qualitative data on user expectations as compared to previous years. The library does not have information on how the user currently feels the effectiveness of book club services meet their needs. Through evaluation it will determine if the current structure of the book club is satisfactory or not satisfactory and ideas for improvements can then be deduced.

References

BookTalk.org. (2002-2015). BookTalk.org. Retrieved from booktalk.org.

Goodreads Inc. (2015). Goodreads Groups. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/group.

Hughes, Scott. (2006-2015). Online Book Club. Retrieved from http://onlinebookclub.org/.

Lake County Library System. (2015). [Interactive calendar of Lake County Library events]. Evanced event calendar. Retrieved from http://mylakelibrary.evanced.info/signup/EventCalendar.aspx?lib=1006.

Matthews, J. R. (2007). The Evaluation and Measurement of Library Services. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

My-bookclub.com. (2011). My Book Club. Retrieved from http://www.my-bookclub.com/.

Twomey, Sarah. (2007, February). Reading "Woman": Book Club Pedagogies and the Literary Imagination. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50 (5), p. 398-407. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40015481

Spring 2015

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