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User-Centered Assessment/Evaluation in PL Services

Sarah Foster

University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Abstract

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. This assignment will summarize specific user-centered issues of the LLLG book club that impact or were impacted by the Leesburg Public Library's following: library governance, library identity, community analysis and needs assessment, marketplace dynamics/advertising, evaluation action plan, assessment and evaluation methods, personnel management, finances, policy development, collections/collection development, electronic resources and technology assessment, technical services and reference services, library systems and library networks, user instruction and customer services, and adult and/or youth services (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

7. User-Centered Assessment/Evaluation in PL Services
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 Leesburg Public Library is funded by the city and county. The Director answers directly to the City Commissioners, City Manager, County Commissioners, and Public Resource Department. The Leesburg Public Library is in good standing with both the City and County Commissioners. Therefore, the library has faced little risk of budget cuts. The library governance is a liberating factor. The City and County Commissioners see the value of the Leesburg Public Library's role in improving the community. This has allowed the library to provide several services, programs, and collections. The City and County provide services and support to the Leesburg Public Library so that services such as the LLLG book club can be provide book club kits and library staff support without concern of budget cost. (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg.8; Lake County Library System, 2008; Lake County Government, 2014; Library Director, personal communication, February 2, 2014)

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

The Leesburg Public Library's mission, vision, and strategic aims are focused on the expansion of library services to support the needs of the users (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015). The Leesburg Public Library's mission is, "Enriching our community with service excellence to provide information, recreation and lifelong learning opportunities. (City of Leesburg, 2012, pg.1)" The library's identity is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club. Although only a small portion of the library's users are affected by the book club services. The service is proven beneficial to the library's offered services by serving those users to enrich them literary information, social recreation, and the opportunity to learn and discover reading with peers.

Community analysis and needs assessment

The community analysis and needs assessment is an important part of developing the library's purpose, decision making of what services to offer, and the distribution of funds. Through the community analysis and needs assessment it was evaluated who the larger community is outside of the library's users and if current services reach their needs. This was a limiting factor to the evaluation of the LLLG book club. The book club is only used by a very small demographic of the library's Adult Services users. These users did fit into the demographics of the primary users of the Leesburg Public Library's Adult Services, but neglects to serve the secondary and tertiary users (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, February 12, 2015). When proving the value of the book club services to the whole community needs it puts the service at risk because of its limited outreach.

Marketplace dynamics/advertising

The Leesburg Public Library uses several methods of advertising in order to reach as many potential users in the varying market place as possible. Advertising includes in house newsletter and flyers, two local newspapers, three websites, Facebook, Pinterest, Lake Front TV, and community outreach presentations outside the library. This is a limiting factor for the LLLG book club services because they are not advertised. With required long-term registration of users it limits the amount of space available for new users. Although advertisement of the service, even if it is only by word of mouth, needs to occur because of the dwindling users in the chapter two book club. Chapter two book club currently has room for seven new users (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Evaluation action plan

The evaluation action plan was an integral part of developing the methods of assessment of the LLLG book club. Through the development of the evaluation action plan the researcher was able to gather the varying problems of the LLLG book club services and determine which were needed to be evaluated and how. Several book club service factors were considered for evaluation but with the help of the evaluation action plan it was deduced what the main focus of the evaluation would be. The purpose was to, determine if 2014-2015 book club procedures are effective at meeting customer expectations. Currently the library does not provide library staff led book club discussions. Customers are requesting to have library staff actively participate and lead book discussions. Data needs to be gathered to determine if current book club structure is meeting the needs of the customer, without a library staff leader (Matthews, 2007, p.9). This was a liberating factor in the development of the survey to be used to assess the book club services.

Assessment and evaluation methods

The Leesburg Public Library uses mostly quantifiable evaluation methods to assess the library services and programs. These methods include monthly statistics of check outs, check ins, self-checks, program attendance, reference questions asked and answered, door count, class attendance, and general comments, concerns and suggestions from patrons (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 12, 2015). The library also provides at each program a small evaluation card that assess how the user found out about the program and their satisfaction of the program. This is a liberating factor for the user-centered assessment of the LLLG book club. Since the library had not conducted a formal evaluation of the service the Adult Services Supervisor was excited about the prospect of one being done. Through the evaluation vital information was gathered and ideas were formed on how to improve the book club services (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, April 28, 2015).

Personnel management

Leesburg Public Library has a staff of twenty-nine individuals. The Director directly governs six different departments of the library. Those departments and their staff are; administrative assistant (1), program coordinator (1), bookstore manager (1, staff are volunteer Friends of the Library), Youth Services (5), Support Services (14), and Adult Services (6). The Adult Services has a supervisor, who is over two librarians, two library assistants, and one temporary. Adult services responsibilities consist of: collection development, reference, genealogy and local history, reader's advisory, programs, public computers, adult literacy, and community outreach (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 219). This is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club services. The library is well staffed which allows the library to offer several services and programs. The LLLG book club is supervised by the Adult Services Supervisor and is assigned an Adult Services Library Assistant to correspond and prepare materials for the book club users. The personnel size and management of the Adult Services allows for the book club services to receive a dedicated staff member to prepare for and listen to user needs.

Finances

The Leesburg Public Library is funded by the city and county. The library is allocated a total budget of $1,462,796 from the city of Leesburg. $160,000 dollars of the budget is allocated to library materials. (City of Leesburg, 2014, p.219, 222). This is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club service. According to the Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, April 28, 2015), book club kits are funded through the budgeting for collection development. With the library having such a large budget provision of these materials is not a concern. The Adult Services Supervisor allocates approximately a $1,000 for the purchasing of book club books and has proposed an increase of $250 to include an audiobook copy (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Policy development

Policy development was not directly observed by the researcher. The Leesburg Public Library's most current policy manual was last updated in 2012, and is visible online. The library's policies are given by the Lake County Library System which practice the standards set by the American Library Association. Policies that impact the LLLG book club services include: "circulation and registration, interlibrary loans among member libraries, collection development policy, use of meeting rooms, and patron guidelines governing the use of member libraries (Lake County Library System, 2008)." The policy development is a liberating factor. It outlines the ideal methods that the Lake County System Libraries should follow by but also leaves room for individual libraries to modify as they see fit for their community. It protects the library from abuse by users but also allows the library to develop specialized collections such as the book club kits to meet the user's needs. Developed policies such as the Interlibrary Loan Policy allow for Leesburg Public Library to share its book club kits with other Lake County Libraries.

Collections and collection management

A part of the Leesburg Public Library's collection development is the specialized collection of book club kits. This is a unique collection that is developed by the book club users and Adult Services Supervisor. The process first takes place at the book selection meeting where book club users present books that they are interested in reading. Then the Adult Services Supervisor compiles a list of books that can be purchased and the book club users vote for seven of the titles. A book club kit consist of ten regular print, two large print, and one eBook. The collection is only available to book clubs. This is a liberating and limiting factor. It is liberating for the book club users to be able to be involved in the collection development of book club titles. The book club members also do not have to acquire the books on their own. It is limiting because the community outside of book club users are unable to use this specialized collection. The book club kits are also only being used by the LLLG book club, Legacy book club, and Cooper Memorial book club. The conducted evaluation of the book club users deduced that adding discussion questions, author background information, and book reviews will improve the collection and increase use by outside book clubs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Electronic resources and technology assessment

The Leesburg Public Library provides thirty-six computers to adult library users, technology classes, Zinio an online periodical collection, OverDrive an online eBook collection, and several online databases. After presenting to the Adult Services Supervisor the analysis of data found from the conducted survey it was suggested that Novelist and Florida Electronic Library databases be used to collect more materials to improve the book club kits. The electronic resources offered by the library are a liberating factor. Book club users are able to access an electronic copy of the book club's titles, and library staff and users have access to databases to collect discussion questions, author background information, and book reviews (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, April 28, 2015).

Technical services and reference services

The Leesburg Public Library has two staff members who conduct technical services for all library materials. This is a liberating factor because the library is able to conduct onsite cataloging corrections on book club materials. The book club kits are cataloged to automatically give an extended thirty day loan period, unlike the regular library collection which is two weeks. Cataloging errors, such as loan period, can be quickly fixed by technical services as soon as they are discovered (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

The Leesburg Public Library has three Reference Librarians, and two Adult Services Library Assistants that assist in reference services. The reference services are a part of the Adult Services duties. This is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club, which is run by the Adult Services. It is also a limiting factor because the Adult Services staff has to prioritize their time between Adult Services programs and duties and reference services at the information desk. This limits the availability of the Adult Services Library Assistant to serve the book club needs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

Library systems and library networks

The Leesburg Public Library is a member library of the Lake County Library System. A member library receives funding and assistance from the Lake County Library System, and designated city. The Lake County Library System consists of nine member libraries, and six branch libraries (Lake County Library System, 2008). This is a liberating factor because the library has access to the cities collection, and fourteen other library collections. The Adult Services Library Assistant who prepares the book club meetings is able to access additional books from the whole Lake County Library System if book club titles are not returned on time or lost. This is also liberating for community and library book clubs who are able to request book club kits which consist of a total of twelve books to be reserved for thirty day loan check out (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

User instruction and customer services

According to the Customer Service Manager (personal communication, February 12, 2015) one of Leesburg Public Library's strengths is the customer service offered. The library prides itself on its personal connections with users and dedication to serve them. The library offers one-on-one and class technology instruction as a part of the Adult Services. This is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club users. Data collected from the conducted survey showed that the users believed that library staff were (Anonymous, personal communication, April 8, 2015), "helpful and courteous". Data also showed that the users rated the quality of library staff with a 59% "excellent" rating, 35% "above average", and 6% or one vote of "average". The Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, April 28, 2015) believes that the "average" rating was because of displeasure from book club members for not assigning a library staff member to conduct book club discussions.

Adult and/or youth services

The Leesburg Public Library provides both Adult and Youth services. Both the Adult and Youth services have book discussion clubs. This assignment focused on Adult Services and the LLLG book club. The library offering Adult Services is a liberating factor for the LLLG book club. Without the Adult Services the LLLG book club would not exist. The Adult Services has offered book club services since 2010 because of the recommendation by library users and Adult Service's library staff desire to conduct book club services. The Adult Service's staff are who collect the book club kits, store the book club kits, provide library staff to manage the book club service, reserve book club meeting space, and maintain communication with book club members and prospective members (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, March 31, 2015).

References

City of Leesburg. (2012). Leesburg Public Library Policy. Leesburg, FL: City of Leesburg.

City of Leesburg. (2014). City of Leesburg, FL Annual Budget: For the Fiscal Year 2014/2015. Leesburg, FL: City of Leesburg.

Lake County Government. (2014). Lake County Government Organizational Chart Fiscal Year 2015. Lake Retrieved from https://www.lakecountyfl.gov/pdfs/county_manager/organizational-chart.pdf.

Lake County Library System. (2008). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from http://www.mylakelibrary.org/frequently_asked_questions.aspx.

Lake County Library System. (2008). Planning Documents and Policies. Retrieved from http://www.mylakelibrary.org/about/plans_policies.aspx.

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

Spring 2015

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