The Transparent Library: Measuring Progress

Adopting a new technology can be fun, whether it’s Web 2.0 applications like Drupal or cutting-edge technologies like RFID. It can be seductive to watch these tools used by other library systems. We’ve seen many “cool tools” presentations at conferences that play up the wonders of Twitter, FriendFeed, or Facebook apps.

However cool these new tools might appear, it may not be easy to inject them into your library—nor do they all belong there. Check out the Libraries Using Evidence blog, created by a group of Australian librarians, for insight into how evidence-based practice meets 2.0 initiatives.

Administrators must take a big picture approach to evaluating new services and tools, factoring in budget issues, staff hours, and community impact. The new tool or service must fit into the library’s philosophy. If it’s a new tool for library communications, then administrators can give it a kick-start by using the tool themselves.

It takes front-end work to evaluate services properly. Well-defined expectations and goals and a written statement regarding some measurable return make the evaluation process more effective and worthwhile.

Also, get staff and customers/patrons on board for the review process. Let everyone know that, eventually, you’ll evaluate every service you roll out. This lends more transparency to your planning process.

Read the whole column here