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Identifying Characteristics That Nudge Us Into Action.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying Characteristics That Nudge Us Into Action."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying Characteristics That Nudge Us Into Action

2 Goals for today Understand collection assessment history & theory. Become familiar with the techniques to use. See the relationship between the before and after possibilities. Clarify your purpose in doing analysis. Place assessment in the total collection development cycle of responsibilities. Consider how analysis fits into a policy statement. Develop an outline of the basic analysis project plan for your library. Enjoy ourselves while learning.

3 What’s included in “collections”? Physical collections (books, magazines, videos, DVDs, audio tapes, CDs, pamphlets, etc.) Electronic files owned by library (files, software, games, catalog, web pages, etc.) Electronic files licensed to the library (databases, electronic journals, e-books, downloadable audio, etc.) Websites or files to which the library links via their home page and other web pages.

4 Understanding what is meant by “collection management” today Activities include : Planning & policy Mission Selection & Acquisition Cataloging & Processing Maintenance & Preservation Assessment & Evaluation Accountability & Feedback Planning & policy Selection & Acquisition Cataloging & Processing Maintenance & Preservation Assessment & Evaluation Accountability & Feedback

5 Why a Collection Management policy statement? Handle situations & problems Gift offers (especially the unwanted ones!) Purchase requests Complaints Facilitate planning Space, furniture, storage, budget Meeting intended client needs Insure selection is congruent with mission & goals Aid in allocating resources & setting priorities Communicate characteristics & rationale for decisions regarding resources

6 A policy helps us to: Define how our mission is to be translated into collections and resources Outline what belongs “in” our library Formats Subjects Levels Languages Relevance & timeliness Provide a context for our work that is unique to our community of clients & potential clients

7 Key elements in a policy Introduction defining our library & our community Practical information about intended nature of collections/resources & assigned responsibilities Selection criteria & responsibility De-Selection/Weeding/Culling & its importance Gifts Preservation & maintenance Specific information for clarity about individual collections or unusual resources or situations Policy management When enacted, when amended, by whom Schedule for regular review and changes

8 Goal of collection management To provide information, literary & recreational resources that meet the needs of the library’s client population within the limits of its fiscal & personnel resources so that each segment is developed with an application of organizational resources consistent with its relative importance to the library’s mission & the needs of the clients.

9 Defining assessment Other names: Mapping Conspectus Analyzing Taking a snap shot of the resources Gathering data & impressions, forming a picture A tool, not an end in itself Systematic approach to understanding library collections & information resources in all formats Not magical... It’s work but worth it!

10 Purpose of assessment To understand what we have already. To educate staff about the collections -- their character, their richness, their holes & the need for intervention. To reflect upon: Our mission & goals Our clients: past present, future Our immediate objectives To stimulate change, action & constant improvement, specific goals. To revitalize resources to match a changing environment & a diverse population base.

11 A little library history 20 th Century & the information explosion The National Shelflist Count Need for more than quantitative approach to quality collections Conspectus approach : an attempt to make comparisons possible across various classification systems General realization that focus on a particular subject, discipline, format, or genre area of a collection makes change possible The basic tool: Can be molded to fit individual library needs – highly complex & sophisticated or quick & dirty depending on situation Provides both quantitative measures that can be graphed & understood by anyone & qualitative observations based upon experience, comparisons & informed judgment Enables us to take action rather than merely wringing our hands

12 It’s a picture, not a report card! This is the hardest part! The process is not about judging what has been or what is, but rather about identifying the characteristics of a segment of the collection. It is only after the assessment is complete that we ask “what ought to be” given who we serve, where we are, etc. It is not about placing blame, dishonoring the past work of individuals or changing everything! Clarity of intention is key to a successful project.

13 We can use assessment to... Determine the characteristics, strengths & weaknesses of existing resources. Decide 1, 2, 3 year goals for very specific areas – by subject, format, or client group. Document progress towards those goals & ensure accountability regarding collection management responsibilities. Communicate rationale for decisions & management strategies. Make daily decisions in context.

14 How do we do it? Three key elements: 1. Identify “approach” 1. Subject or format segments 2. Depth & breath (quick ‘n’ dirty is better than perfect & never!) 3. Format for information 4. Techniques to use 2. Do it: Develop descriptive info about segments 3. Consider what “is” compared to what you want & develop appropriate goals, benchmarks, etc.

15 Putting pieces together Identify all of the collections! Decide on what broad disciplines, subjects, classification areas, formats are to be assessed Decide on depth & breadth of info & notes, as well as instrument to record relevant information Determine what techniques to use (quantitative & qualitative) Train staff and assign tasks Determine “test” areas, do them, adjust, do rest Use it to set goals, make changes, adjust collections to meet needs of today’s clients

16 Defining our segments Subject, discipline, format, or other We can assess any area of our collections based upon a commonality across the segment. DisciplineSubjectFormat We can use our classification scheme to help define a meaningful segment. - Psychology Religion Medicine610 – Cookery641 & Audio books(tape/CD – adult & juv)

17 Let’s identify those collections! Mentally walk around your library: List each collection as you see it regardless of how big or how small it might be (how old, irrelevant, in need of attention!) Now, compare your list with the lists generated by others, adjust your list based on discussion. Discuss what each of you might want to use as your “test” assessment areas (2 or 3) & why you would use those Consider what you wouldn’t bother to assess & why Be prepared to share your personal insights during a reporting period.

18 Gathering initial information Quantitative measures How many How old How often used How much money spent or new items added per year Qualitative measures Presence of key authors, titles, types of things Condition Level and diversity of approach Degree of redundancy & duplication Seeing what your clients see!

19 Assessment techniques to use: 1. How many? Determine number of items (# of DVDs, books, newspapers, etc.) 2. Determine relative size (how much of whole?) 3. Determine average age (mean, medium, mode, oldest, newest) 4. Get use information (turnover rate, raw circ stats, for segment and whole) 5. Other significant data? 6. Do shelf scanning

20 Quantitative info How many items? Titles vs. volumes % of whole How old? How recent? Average: mean, median, mode Oldest? Most recent? How much use? Circ data by segment % of whole circulation Turnover rates How many added and/or how much budget expended?

21 In general, how to get the info System reports Advantages Disadvantages Estimates from the shelves Advantages Disadvantages A combination of the two Advantages Disadvantages

22 Shelf scanning – the best part! You see what your clients see! 1. Gather data, take worksheet to collection 2. Identify beginning & ending of segment/collection 3. Look at it as if you were a client! What do you see? Make notes about: Condition, visual appeal, general impression Redundancy (same approach, different titles) Duplication (if you see it, there is probably too much!) Level of material (all introductory, only professional) Does the “arrangement” make sense? 4. Make notes about what is and what is not there

23 Looking for red flags! Look at the information – together if possible Look for red flags Where do you see things that make you ask questions? Where do you see things that make you crazy? Start making notes about potential goals for this section Summarize in a phrase what is right/wrong about segment Draft goals for action (weed 40%, add 20 new titles each of next 3 years, move to more accessible area, add more AV on topic, reorganize, re-label, eliminate except for..., improve average age to... )

24 Recording what we discover To design the mechanism to record & share information: Ask what information we want to record & how we want to record it. Decide how much detail we want & how much time we want to spend. (be realistic) Then considering: Developing worksheets Using spreadsheet software Graphing results Deciding upon a controlled vocabulary Determining the how, the who, the when of the whole project

25 Designing a worksheet format Be realistic! Gather the essentials, let the rest go. Don’t gather data just because it would be interesting – consider how each piece can be used to set goals, make decisions, take action. Remember that the data is ballpark not exact. Keep all of the project goals in mind – staff education as well as collection assessment. Build in hands-on -- not just reports. Consider how the worksheets will be used after the snapshot is taken.

26 Is it good or bad? Neither! Remember: Assessment is a snapshot in time. It is only when one asks “what ought to be” or “how should this be different” that one can set goals. The implications of assessment are up to you to decide. Doing the assessment informs all aspects of library operations. It “bleeds over” into all sort of things! Quality collections do not happen by accident. Assessment is a major step towards achieving quality. Quality is NOT a function of quantity. Perfect is unlikely & not necessary. Keep it simple, get it done. Use it to be responsive to all clients including currently underserved populations.

27 Using the fruits of your labor Collection management policy. Political environment, including budget justification. Accountability for staff & library as whole. Disaster preparedness. Communication with staff, vendors, board, clients, authorities. Daily decisions.

28 Collection assessment plan What is the goal or purpose? Be clear! Use project management thinking & adjust as you go Cost Scope/quality/degree of perfection Time to complete What information do we need? What techniques will we use? Who will be involved? Which segments? In what order? How will we record information? Timeline?

29 My CD commandments -- all formats Know your client community. Make decisions in all areas of operations that about improved service/access to clients – not ease for staff. Design new process models for a new environment – change! Really know what you have & what is used. Decide what you want to have – set goals. Use the same criteria in doing selection & weeding for purchased items & freebies. Selection & weeding can only make sense in light of the mission. Focus on community of users & potential users – not your own opinion. Write a policy, keep it up to date, keep it simple!

30 Thanks for being here today! Mary C. Bushing Library Consultant & Educator UNT Course Presenter 2121 S. Tracy Avenue Bozeman, MT (cell)


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