Public Library Survey Tip No. 1

Today marks the start of a multi-part weekly series of tips for collecting data for your next public library survey using Bibliostat. Yes, I know, it seems like this survey just ended, and it did, but you should be collecting your data now for input into the next survey when the cycle begins this coming November. Keep in mind that the next survey covers the time period of your library’s fiscal year, which in most cases is either October 1 to September 30 OR July 1 to June 30. A few libraries have fiscal years that run from January 1 to December 31. A quick reminder about terminology: Bibliostat is the vendor that we use to collect the data, but the survey itself is the IMLS public library survey. Today’s post will focus on programs in general. Most of you know what a library program is, but to clarify what you count for a program on this survey, here is the definition:

A program is any planned event which introduces the group attending to any of the broad range of library services or activities or which directly provides information to participants.

Now that is pretty broad, so here is your cheat sheet:

  • Library tours can be counted as programs;
  • Examples of some programs include film showings, lectures, story hours, English and citizenship classes, and book discussion groups;
  • Do NOT count library services that are provided on a one-on-one basis (such as computer assistance or one-on-one homework help);
  • Count programs that the library either sponsors or co-sponsors;
  • Count programs even if they are held off-site (not at the library); and
  • If a program is offered in a series, count each program in the series (e.g. if you have a discussion group that meets 6 times, that counts as 6 programs).

As always, if you have any questions about what to count or not count, feel free to let me know. Next week we will expand on the program counts to include specific children’s and young adult programs. One final note, if you might not have been counting some programs you should have been counting, and now you are, your count will likely increase from what was reported in the prior year’s survey. If this is the case, it might trigger an edit check in Bibliostat. This means that you will need to enter a note in the note field explaining the increase (or decrease). It is perfectly acceptable to put something in that field such as “we did not count programs held off site last year, and this year we did”. Shaka.

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