Hear directly from Attain Partners’ library consultants in our on-demand webinar, How a Library Cost Analysis Study Can Benefit Your Research Library.
A thriving library program continually assesses its strengths and weaknesses. This can be accomplished with a thorough strategic planning process, or it can be done through smaller analyses of specific parts of the library program or department. For example, a library may choose to focus specifically on facilities’ needs or collection development, while a full strategic plan would include a comprehensive review of all program aspects. Regardless of the scope, these assessments are a crucial practice for a successful library program.
Many libraries internalize this process with the idea that they know their program best, therefore internal staff is best suited to assess their own library. However, this can present setbacks, such as tunnel vision, time constraints, and inherent bias. Attain Partners’ library consultants eliminate these concerns to guide the library to a more efficient and objective assessment.
Assess the real needs
Oftentimes, assessments commence with a pre-determined goal in mind. Take, for example, a library that already knows it wants to renovate a specific room to create a young adult space. Library staff made this decision based on anecdotal feedback and a showcase of newly renovated spaces at a recent professional conference. They are certain a new teen space is a necessity. Subsequently, any internal assessment conducted will most likely be geared to support this renovation.
Attain Partners’ library consultants can perform a facilities assessment based on formal user surveys, available space and resources, and staff feedback. We then provide a recommendation based on the data collected, along with the staff feedback, to ensure that the needs of the entire library community are met. This may well result in a new young adult space, but the assessment may also show that a space for a different user group is a more valuable, affordable, and functional use of the room.
Allow someone else to do the heavy lifting
Libraries are already understaffed, with librarians often taking on additional roles and tasks beyond their original duties—and a thorough assessment process is time-consuming. Our library consultants were librarians themselves, and have experienced the limited bandwidth of library staff. Building relationships with our clients and leveraging their talent and knowledge of their library comes first and foremost. By using change management best practices, we strategically meet with different stakeholders to ask specific questions relevant to their roles and knowledge base. We have the dedicated time and flexibility to meet with staff as their schedules allow, which enables more effective stakeholder engagement.
Inherent bias is one of the most significant obstacles to self-assessment. Library departments are going to be—and should be—protective of their resources and advocates for their individual programs. We expect and want to hear all perspectives from stakeholders. This feedback, along with quantitative data collected through varied methods, allows us to recommend data-driven solutions without ulterior motives. Our singular goal is to help libraries find the strategies and solutions that work best for their unique library communities. We get to know your library, your staff, and your community through one-on-one conversations and strategic data collection and analysis, and make recommendations based on the specific, individual needs of your unique library.
Attain Partners – Library Experts
At Attain Partners, our consultants work with university, public, and school libraries to design and implement effective library user surveys to inform critical financial and strategic decisions. Contact our team today to find out more about how our consultants will work with your library to create a valuable assessment tool!
Learn more about our Library Planning and Strategy services here.
About the Author
Ms. Blake Norby is a Library Consultant for the Research Enterprise Services practice of Attain Partners. During her time with Attain Partners, Ms. Norby has been involved in multiple library consulting projects with higher education institutions. She has participated in various stages of Facilities & Administrative Expense (F&A) strategic planning, proposal preparation and submission, and space functional usage studies with a focus on library spaces. Ms. Norby brings over 13 years’ experience working in libraries with extensive knowledge of using patron data to create inclusive, accessible library spaces and programs. She is currently a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the American Library Association (ALA) including the Public Library Association, and several additional roundtables and special interest groups.