Librarian's Library: Making Sure Libraries "Measure Up"

Article excerpt

Times are tough for libraries, and when times get tough, managers--whether college administrators, a principal, a board of trustees, or even voters--start asking about the viability of programs and the measurable benefits of those programs. That's why understanding how to measure your library's activities--and therefore proving their value--is critical in today's economic environment.

In Using Qualitative Methods in Action Research: How Librarians Can Get to the Why of Data, editors Douglas Cook and Lesley Farmer provide an array of examples that use qualitative research (which analyzes observed behaviors or transactions or a group under study) to understand what does and doesn't work with a library instruction program. They also look at changes a library may need to implement in order to better meet the needs of students; how to evaluate and improve reference interviews; and what to do to improve collection development processes. Such qualitative methods can help explain why a program is valuable.


INDEXED. ACRL, 2011. 264 P. $60. 978-0-83898576-2

Just Plain Data Analysis: Finding, Presenting, and Interpreting Social Science Data by Gary M. Klass is an exploration of the types of quantitative research (which is rooted in data and statistical analysis) that can be used to draw conclusions about such social science issues as crime rates and measuring educational achievement. Klass uses examples of statistical claims to demonstrate how changing the time frame for data collection or looking at different correlations can result in varying or misleading statements. He also has chapters to how to tabulate and display numbers and how to use graphical presentation effectively.


INDEXED. ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD, 2012. 202 P. S24.95. PBK. 978-1-4422-1508-5

Sandra D. Andrews's Power of Data: An Introduction to Using Local, State, and National Data to Support School Library Programs couples a practical guide to sources of good statistical surveys with discussions of how to use information in statistical reports. The purpose is to learn how best to use data at your own school district and building level to develop arguments for the efficacy of your program. Andrews, who is on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, looks at possible questions one might have, then walks readers through the local, state, and national resources that could help benchmark performance, demonstrate meeting standards, and advocate for support. …


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