Toledo Lucas County Public Library Uses Edge to Gauge Community Priorities and Plan Improvements

TOLEDO LUCAS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
TOLEDO, OHIO
POPULATION: 441,815
LIBRARY DIRECTOR: CLYDE SCOLES

 

“The Edge Action Plan is helpful because it allows the library to create a roadmap of activities and tasks to implement for the coming year. It is a great roadmap to make sure the library is doing the most it can for the community and not overlooking things that may be important.”
- Andy Lechlak, Digital Strategist, Toledo Lucas County Public Library

 

According to data gathered from public libraries across North America that use Edge, eight of the top 20 recommendations libraries add to their Edge Action Plans involve libraries surveying their communities — but what do libraries do with this data?

“We’re using Edge as the third critical component of the library’s near- and long-term planning: strategy, facilities and technology,” said Jason Kucsma, deputy director for Toledo Lucas County Public Library.

When creating the community survey, the library included questions from the Edge Assessment around technology devices, technology programs, technology services and the library’s databases.

“People were very vocal about this topic — we received more than 2,000 submissions about library technology — which shows how significant of an issue it is to our community,” said Andy Lechlak, digital strategist at the library.

The library used the feedback from the survey to help make decisions about what it can improve to better meet the needs and priorities of the community.

“We used the community survey and Edge to shed light on some of the areas where the library could improve our technology offerings,” said Lechlak. “Edge is a key framework for working with our strategic plan and providing a technology roadmap over the next couple of years.”

Library App
Despite the usefulness of the library’s mobile site, one of the key takeaways from the survey was that the community wanted a more convenient way to access library materials and information.

“In the comments section of the survey, people kept saying they missed the library app,” said Lechlak.

Toledo Lucas County Public Library previously used Boopsie, a mobile app that allows users to locate and search the library’s catalog.

“Boopsie served a purpose, but our new responsive website was designed to provide a consistent online customer experience for our communities, regardless of what devices they are using,” said Lechlak. “The Edge Assessment was the catalyst for reviewing our own assumptions about how well our site was meeting those customer expectations and considering whether or not we need a standalone app to complement the website.”

To better understand what the community wanted from the app, the library conducted another survey that solely focused on the priorities and features of the upcoming app.

As a way to meet the needs of the community and meet national standards based on the Edge Benchmarks, the new app will provide links to important library resources that users can access to support tasks related to eGovernment, education, self-help and digital collections.

“We will also include a section for timely community priorities such as civic engagement, taxes, education and health. For example, we will include information about voter registration and reminders for people to vote during election season and tax help information during tax season,” Lechlak said.

According to Lechlak, the goal of the app is to increase library awareness and provide access in new markets the library is currently not reaching.

“The community has asked for the app, and now we have data to inform what that app may look like,” he said. “It is part of improving the library’s user experience.”

Real-Time Reference Services
As a result of its community wide survey, Toledo Lucas County Public Library also learned that the community wanted real-time reference services to support their individual goals and needs.

“We had implemented live chat about four years ago but it didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped,” said Lechlak. “Edge put live chat assistance back on the library’s radar.”

In conjunction with EDGE, we had received a submission to our internal innovation team. This means there were three separate channels all asking for live chat: the community survey, the innovation incubator and Edge.”

According to Lechlak, the library’s live chat service was previously managed by staff that answered the phones.

“With the current setup, we did not have the in-house capacity to effectively manage live chat,” he said. “The pilot was successful in showing the library the value of providing live chat and it is definitely something that the library will provide again, but first it is important for us to determine how to improve the experience.”

As it prepares to relaunch its approach to real-time reference services, the library is identifying ways to expand the usefulness of live chat for the community.

“Many of the new positions at the library reflect the need to be digitally literate. We realized that if customers are coming to chat, they are expecting a one-stop shop and want to resolve all of their problems — which may include technology questions,” said Lechlak.

In addition to launching the new app and new live chat services, the library uses the Edge Action Plan as an important component of the overall planning for the library.

“The Edge Action Plan is helpful because it allows the library to create a roadmap of activities and tasks to implement for the coming year,” said Lechlak. “It is a great roadmap to make sure the library is doing the most it can for the community and not overlooking things that may be important.”

Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s success with Edge can be attributed to its continuous engagement with the many tools, resources and learning opportunities provided through a subscription.

“We have meetings at least four times a year where we actively review the Edge Action Plan and provide updates about the progress we are making. Edge’s purpose isn’t about answering ‘yes’ to every question on the assessment,” said Lechlak. “Edge is about ensuring the library is aligned with the community’s priorities.”