When Lisa Scroggins joined the Claud H. Gilmer Memorial Library in 2008, the community’s perception of the Library was in question. Since its opening in 2001, many in the community thought that it was a school library because it is located on a school campus. Scroggins was tasked with changing this perception so that the public viewed it as a vital information center for the broader community. Following the completion of the assessment in 2014, Edge data quickly became a crucial tool for communicating the Library’s needs and getting increased support from funders and community stakeholders.
The Rocksprings Independent School District is the primary fiscal agent for the library, and prior to taking the Edge assessment, the county government was only contributing $5,000 per year toward the Library’s services for patrons. Scroggins approached the county for increased funding for the Library to ensure they could continue providing adequate printing/copying services. Presenting data from a national benchmarking initiative made a significant impact on the county commissioners, resulting in a near doubling of the county’s contributions to $9,000.
“When you put things out there that need funding for your library, even the best ideas fall on deaf ears if you don’t have data to explain why it is an essential service,” said Scroggins. “Edge helps rural libraries stay current and relevant in the library industry; that’s where it evens the playing field.”
The Library received a $38,000 grant from the Tocker Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to supporting small, rural Texas libraries. The Tocker Foundation recognizes Edge as an important resource for grantees to determine their areas of greatest need and to provide guidance on how to implement changes in those areas. With this grant, the Library purchased a collection of audiobooks, as well as new tables and furniture with built-in charging docks, eliminating the need to run extension cords across library pathways. While these improvements did not directly address action items from their Edge assessment, Scroggins credits Edge with helping her prioritize improvements that create an environment focused on customer needs.
“We all get tunnel vision on what we think we need to do and until I used Edge, I didn’t realize that I was missing out on so much,” said Scroggins. “It took the library on a whole new path focused on the community.”
Edge also helped the Library, which is housed on a K-12 school campus, to work with the school’s IT director to address noticeably slow internet connections and computer performance, despite having relatively new devices and using the school’s fiber optic network. Edge benchmarks 9 and 10, which address issues related to devices, bandwidth, and actively managing internet connectivity, provided Scroggins with background knowledge and a shared language to facilitate conversations with the IT director.
The team conducted a series of speed tests and examined devices, finding that not only did the devices need memory upgrades, but that using a shared local area network (LAN) with the school was splitting bandwidth and slowing their internet connection. Through their collaboration, the team was able to upgrade their devices with new memory sticks and establish a separate network specifically for the library to ensure more consistent speed and performance. The IT director is now incorporating Edge information to prioritize and allocate library resources in budget discussions.
For Scroggins, Edge played an essential role in transforming the Claud H. Gilmer Memorial Library during her time as director.
“Edge made me reflect on our services, and gave me the confidence to know I was going in the right direction,” she said. “It gives unbiased, clear information to use as a springboard for improving your services. I only just began to scratch the surface on what Edge can do; however, it single-handedly provided the most useful, revealing pieces of information I have found to move this library forward.”