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Gabriel San Jose State University
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Today¶s libraries are met with the huge task of accommodating the varied needs of patrons who seek out the programs and services that in many cases, only libraries provide. This is especially the case for public libraries that must also deal with extenuating factors such as ³increasing populations, changing demographics, aging infrastructure, and the growing expectations of residents´ (Duncan, 2008, p. 1) all while serving these patrons. We are faced with these same challenges at Pleasanton Public Library, where we have become increasingly resourceful in meeting the needs of our patrons. And yet, despite some success, we have also gained a heightened awareness of those areas in which we need to increase the resources and services that we provide to the community. Indeed, there is a great need for more technology within the library as computer and Internet use has greatly increased in the last ten years. In addition, we have also seen children¶s circulation of materials increase in significant ways. The increases in both of these areas can be linked to the fact of a population increase in Pleasanton of 34% in nearly two decades. As a result, we have found that the Pleasanton Public Library has been unable to adequately keep up with the demand of these services, and must request aid from the city in order to meet the immediate demand. In order to evaluate the library and its efficacy in meeting patrons¶ needs, we have decided to employ the Three R¶s of Performance management tool. When used in conjunction with the balanced scorecard, we will clearly show the city council that the library is greatly in need of an investment in resources. The library is requesting a 20% increase in the annual budget so as to implement changes that can accommodate resource deficiencies that have become progressively more apparent. Such an increase would be applied toward an upgrade to the Internet connection to increase speed, acquisition of at least five new computers, and the salary of a new children¶s librarian. TYPE OF ANALYSIS Qualitative Methods Concept Mapping. The method of concept mapping would be useful for this study because it allows for ideas to be seen visually and hierarchically, so relationships between several concepts can be linked together in a way that is easy to recognize. This method would allow for the city council members to see the library¶s train of thought, in terms of what is causing a delay in library services, why population growth matters, and how these issues can help to formulate appropriate performance measures. Also, using this method would generate a thoughtful brainstorming session that would involve preparation of the issues within time and place, a generating of key ideas, and a structuring of these ideas that would appeal to the objectives of the city council members. Concept maps have been demonstrated to be a creative way to graphically demonstrate all areas of the library that are affected by the problems that are being studied. The downside to this tool is the complex and overloaded amount of connections that can cause confusion and misdirection to occur. However, this method provides a connection between the problem, causes, stakeholders, and performance measures and allows it to be viewed in a way that is visually appealing. Due to time constraints, this method will not be used for the final study. Interviewing. The face-to-face interview method would be useful for our study because it is a more personable way for a random sample of patrons to explain their thoughts and feelings about the delays in the library and the shortage of computers. The interviews would contain a series of direct and focused questions that would help to uncover further details by exploring issues such as whether the patrons chosen felt that on average, visiting the library was seen as a
positive experience for them or a negative one and why. Overall, the questions asked would be a mixture of experience and behavior, knowledge, and feeling questions. The goal of the interviews would be to eliminate biases and keep the patrons focused on the problem topic. The results of the interviews would then be analyzed and written up in a case study. The downside to this method is that the observations and viewpoints from patrons could be false and misleading. Due to time constraints, this method will not be used for the final study. Quantitative Methods Counting. The counting method is one that is most often used in gathering day-to-day statistics, a common practice by most libraries of all types. We will use this method to attempt to discover any patterns in who is using the library, how often is the library being used, and which services are most commonly used by patrons and are high in demand. It will be essential to determine the ways in which patrons use the library, particularly technology use within the library, but also to retrieve circulation data such as the number of patrons visiting the library on a daily basis, with special emphasis on the number of children frequenting the library. Counting will allow us to gather data in all of these areas, enabling us to conduct a more accurate analysis of how well the library is performing in various areas specific to circulation and usage. Other Tools and Methods The Five Whys. The Five Whys method is another model to consider when evaluating the library. In this case the questions are, ³Why are we receiving complaints about the computers?´ and ³Why are we receiving complaints about not being able to find a librarian in the children¶s section?´ The five possible reasons for this: We don¶t have enough computers, our computers are getting old, our connection is slow, our children¶s librarians have to multitask too much, and we have too few children¶s librarians to serve our population. This process allows for looking at our library at different angles and seeing where it may have problems or finding the problems that are contributing to our larger issue. Nicholson¶s Evaluation Matrix. Nicholson¶s evaluation matrix would work well in our study because it has an emphasis on cost-benefit analysis. Should we use the Nicholson evaluation matrix we would be comparing the cost of the library to the benefits it gives the community. This would be especially useful in showing how little funding the library gets in comparison to the community¶s use of it. Another reason to use this matrix for evaluation is because it takes in both library and customer perspectives. The library perspective expresses the desire for another children¶s librarian and the need for more computers while the customer perspective expresses wanting more computers and often needing help from a children¶s librarian, when the librarian is busy with another patron or just not available. It also helps to show where needs meet and how much they cost. Three R¶s of Performance (3Rs). This performance management tool is used to create a ³strategic and comprehensive context for decision making´ (Matthews, 2007, p. 342) and allows the organization to monitor its performance in three areas: resources, reach, and results. Using this tool, the library will identify the amount of time, money, and people it possesses; the breadth and depth that these resources are spread across in the form of library services and programs; and the impact on the groups of people reached by these resources. Other methods and tools will be employed within the construct of the 3Rs used in conjunction with the balanced scorecard to clearly identify the resources, reach, and results of the library¶s performance in meeting the needs of its patrons (see Table 1).