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INSC 554: Public Library Management and Services

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.

1.1 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?

The Knox County Public Library (KCPL) is a library system serving the Greater Knoxville Area. It consists of East Tennessee History Center, Knox County Archives, Calvin M. McClung History Collection, and branch libraries. The Lawson McGhee main library is located at the downtown Knoxville. The library system offers more than one million books, periodicals, compact discs, films, and other resources through 19 locations across Knox County (About, n.d. para.1).

KCPL is a department under the Knox County government. The advisory board for the library meets monthly to discuss policy development and related issues (Library Advisory Board, n.d. para.1). The County Mayor staffs work in six divisions of the library systems: main library, assistant director/branch services, children's services, ET history Center, reference services, and collection management (Burchett, 2013, p.22). In the past year 2014, there are 134 full-time staff and 71 part-time staff working in the library systems (Burchett, 2013, p.202). Besides, KCPL welcomes volunteers to help in "programs and events such as Imagination Library, Books for the Homebound, and the Children's Festival of Reading"(Volunteering, n.d.).

KCPL is open to the public. "The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 census demographic population data reported that 441,311 citizens reside within the total land area of approximately 526 square miles that make up Knox County."(Burchett, 2013, p.5). Demographic statistics of 2013 shows that among these citizens, 48.6% are male, 53.4% female. And individuals aged from 45 to 54 years old make up the largest part of citizens (Burchett, 2013, p.265), which is 14.1%. Kids aged from 5 to 14 are taking up to 12.0%. To get full access to the library, citizens needs to apply for a library card with proof of both identity and address. Out-of-country customers who are non-resident or have no household property need to pay an annual fee of 40$ for a card of one-year validation (Library Cards, n.d. para.4).

It is clear that KCPL has an excllent collection of library resources, a variety of programs, abundant staff, and sustainable budget for further development. The Lawson McGhee main library has a long history dating back to 1886 (Library History, n.d.), which suggest that KCPL has professional experience and ingrained traditions in serving its customers. KCPL has great historical collections, resources and events to highlight local history and genealogy. Moreover, KCPL benefits from the ALA accredited information science program at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This program will continuously provide well-trained and qualified ready-to-work personnel to KCPL.

However, a great majority of programs are targeted at children. More programs serving adults should be developed. Additionally, except the main library, other branch libraries are very small; some are even understaffed. Susan Poorbaugh, manager in the Bearden branch library, claimed that not many people come to the library (personal communication, January 16, 2015). Hence, KCPL should consider consolidating these branch libraries to better serve people in the community.

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

KCPL has a very brief and clear mission statement in its website. KCPL is aimed to "serve all residents as an educational, informational, recreational and cultural center through a wide variety of resources, services and programs" ("Mission", About, n.d.). Specifically, according to government report, certain library program has its own independent mission (Burchett, 2013, p.203):

PROGRAM: Provision of Library Materials for use by the Public
MISSION: The mission of the Knox County Public Library is to serve all residents as an educational informational, recreational, and cultural center through a wide variety of resources, services, and programs.

PROGRAM: Provision of Information Services
MISSION: To provide: a) library materials representing a broad range of subjects and formats, b) efficient, reliable, and convenient access to electronic information tools and resources, c) appropriate programs for children and adults, and d) a knowledgeable and helpful staff.

PROGRAM: Provision of Electronic Gateways and Resources
MISSION: To provide efficient, reliable, and convenient access to electronic information tools and resources for customers by acquiring, implementing, and maintaining appropriate technologies with well-trained and responsive technical staff.

PROGRAM: Provision of Materials and Services Specially Designed for Children
MISSION: To provide library services for children and their supporting adults by selecting and maintaining appropriate collections of books and other materials, providing information, and planning and presenting programs.

During years of 2014 to 2015, KCPL will implement Axis 360 e-book Service, evaluate video & music streaming services, evaluate Mosio for libraries text messaging and chat reference service (Burchett, 2013, p.202).

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

As of its rationale, KCPL serves as an information and learning center for the residents. It will continue to grow because the resources and service provided here meet the demand of its members. To better serve its members, a library should keep pace with the changing environment. KCPL offers a wide variety of social platforms to connect with its members, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Calendar feeds. Like its' mission states, KCPL is to "serve all residents as an educational, informational, recreational and cultural center through a wide variety of resources, services and programs" ("Mission", About, n.d.).

KCPL's vision is "an essential connection for lifelong learning and information for every citizen" ("Vision", About, n.d.). It serves as a resource center all community members.

Citizens should provide personal identification information and address information to get a library card first, and then would be able to have full access to the library resources. Remote users have access to downloadables, but because they are not able to physically visit the library, there are some resources that they can't use, such us items loan, a variety of workshops, meeting rooms, library computers, etc.

KCPL provides a wide variety of resources and services. Members have access to books, periodicals, compact discs, films, audiobooks and downloadables. It also offers library computers and Wi-Fi Internet access, homebound and disability services, interlibrary loan, meeting room reservation, and ask a librarian service. Moreover, members will find interesting programs and workshops such as book clubs, computer workshops, local history, preschool storytime, etc.

The Lawson McGhee main library is 70,600 Square Feet in size ("Lawson McGhee library", Every Library, n.d.). The Children's Room is intended to provide a comfortable and exclusive space for children's activities. The meeting room is reservation available for community meetings. Computers and Internet allows members to have two one-hour sessions per day in good standing, as well as guarantees the possibility of computer workshops. Each year, the advisory board will discuss new-year budget to make sure the library will continue to provide services and resources to meet its members' demand.

1.4 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).

As it states, KCPL's dedicated to serve as "The essential connection for lifelong learning and information for every citizen" ("Vision", About, n.d.). Upon examination of its vision statement, mission statement and services it offers, it is clear that KCPL is playing a role as an information center, learning center, community activities center, preschoolers' door to learning, and a material center. Its service responses include basic literacy, commons, cultural awareness, general information, lifelong learning, local history and genealogy.

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

The following sample value statement for KCPL is based on the review of KCPL's vision statement, mission statement, and services it provide for the public.

KCPL is dedicated to place high values on:

1) Customers' equal right of life-long learning and education receiving
2) The safety and comfort of each customer using the library
3) The exploration and preservation of local history and genealogy
4) Providing a wide range of resources to customers
5) Providing convenience to the disabilities
6) Developing useful and interesting programs for their target audience

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

Although reference service manager of Lawson McGhee library, Janet Drumheller, claimed that there is no strategic plan at the moment (personal communication, January 31, 2015), several improvement plans can be found in the governmental official report. As stated in the government budget report (Burchett, 2013, p.202), KCPL has various strategic aims during 2014 to 2015 calendar year. KCPL will implement Axis 360 e-book Service, evaluate video & music streaming services, evaluate Mosio for libraries text messaging and chat reference service. Also, KCPL is seeing facilities upgrades from year 2015 to 2019. These upgrades include "various long-lived upgrades, including technological improvements, to the Knox County Public Library System's 19 locations" (Burchett, 2013, p.249).

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

I would suggest the library develop an information literacy program. This new program will offer training workshops to foster information literacy among customers. According to American Library Association, an information literate person is able to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (ALA, 1989). Nowadays, people are adjusted to use Google to find information. Google search is easy to use, yet not everyone knows how to evaluate information they retrieved from Google as well as other information channels. KCPL is missioned to be an information center for its customers. It's necessary for the customers to learn how to take advantage of the varied resources provided in library. Besides, it's of vital importance for people to pay attention to information policies as well. Information policy is closely related to an individual's everyday life. For example, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protect "the privacy of individually identifiable health information" (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.).


Knox County Public Library. (N.D.). Retrieved from

Every Library. (2012). Retrieved from

American Library Association. (1989). ACRL: Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report (1989). Retrieved from presidential

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (N.D.). Retrieved from

Burchett, T. (2013). 2014-2015 Adopted Budget Detail. Retrieved from

Spring 2015

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