What Counts Gets Measured: Part 3

Measure 2Although we had created definitions and provided examples for Programs, Outreach, and Community Engagement statistics, staff was sometimes confused about applying the criteria to their own activities and events.  When questions arose, they were encouraged to call Terry Wingate, Staff Development/Metrics Manager to work through the problem.  Terry would often consult with me before giving staff an answer needed to complete their monthly statistical report.

As we worked through various scenarios, some shorter definitions emerged –

  • Program – a library activity/event in a library
  • Outreach — a library activity/event in a non-library venue
  • Community Engagement – an activity/event that is not centered on library services

One exception emerged for a program.  Our programming staff occasionally uses off-site venues for library programs.  This may occur because of space issues, partnerships, and/or more desirable locations.  These events are usually done at the system level and counted as programs.

Since staff is very focused on “selling” library services to people, the concept of community engagement is sometimes difficult to grasp.  It’s a mind shift to understand that community engagement is not about getting more people to sign up for a library card.  It’s more about being visible in the community.  As Micki Dietrich, Outreach Specialist, says, “Community engagement is about listening to the community.”  My mantra to staff is “the ultimate goal of our strategic plan is that 100% of Douglas County residents support the library, not that 100% use the library.”

I’ve created a table that shows our logic process for various library activities and events.  The table includes the question or event, the final decision for the statistical category, and the rationale behind the decision.  Staff questions decreased markedly after 6 months of using the new categories.

Posted by Theresa Jehlik, Project Manager

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