By Peter Haxton
It’s that time of year. There’s a nip in the air. People are being extra friendly and cheery. You can feel the excitement everywhere you go. It must almost be time for that special season. The pretty new Public Library Survey is coming!
Yes, that exciting time of year is fast approaching, but it’s not too late to start planning! To help with your planning, I would like to share some questions I (might) have received from librarians just like you.
Q: Wow, the Public Library Survey sure is fun, but what happens to all the fascinating data that comes from it?
A: Two things. The data is shared with the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which compiles the data from all of the states and compares them. The State Library compiles and publishes the data from Kansas, which can then be used by our libraries for program evaluation, marketing and outreach.
Q: The survey takes a lot of time. Do you think we have nothing better to do?
A: Yes, it does take a lot of time from everyone involved. However, the information we gather is an invaluable resource for libraries, regional systems and the State Library.
Q: Are there any new questions on the 2009 survey?
A: Yes, the children’s programming question has been split into children’s programs and attendance (for kids under 12) and young adult programs and attendance (for 12-18).
Q: What!? We haven’t been collecting YA program data! What are we going to do?
A: It’s O.K. The question wasn’t approved until last spring, when Kansas was already about a third of the way through the collection year, and I understand that few libraries were tracking this data.
So what can you do? If you are lucky enough to have a YA librarian, they probably know how many programs there were. They may even know the attendance. If they don’t, make a reasonable estimate. If your library doesn’t have programs specifically for young adults, congratulations, you’ve completed the question! If you don’t have a YA librarian, but do have YA programs, just make a reasonable estimate.
Q: Well, if you’re sure it’s alright…. Is there anything else we should start doing now?
A: Make sure you know where all your data is. Do you have your staff expenses and salary information handy? If you’re a library that has to go through your local government to get your revenue numbers, go ahead and give them the heads up that you will need that soon.
Q: Okay. So what if we have questions? Do we still call Bonnie?
A: No, Bonnie left all of the survey files and information on my desk in the dead of the night a couple months back with a note that said “no give backs.” Anyway, call me at (785) 296-2008 or email me (email@example.com) if you have any questions or comments.