As public libraries across North America look for data to support their decision making processes, they are also looking for a tool to help them find this information.
Reeves County Library found that tool in Edge.
“We use Edge to help us prioritize the library’s most immediate needs,” said Anacely Lopez, Reeves County Librarian. “It allows us to measure things, giving a sense of accountability.”
Every component of Edge was developed with a strong emphasis on engaging stakeholders. This made it especially useful for Lopez when working with her County Commissioners.
“Having Edge as something I could share with the County Commissioners allowed me to say ‘Look at this – this is where we are supposed to be, this is where we are now, and this is where we should be going’,” she said.
Lopez has actively engaged one county commissioner in particular, educating her on Edge and sharing the library’s Action Plan with her so that she knows what the library plans to implement in the coming year. As a result of fostering this relationship, when Lopez cannot attend county meetings, this commissioner speaks for the library and its needs.
Based on data from the Edge Assessment, Reeves County Library learned that in order to meet national standards, many changes are needed when their new library opens in Summer 2017. This information is critical for the library, especially with the opening of a new and larger location, where they will have more space to add and improve technology offerings.
“Edge has helped the library be specific in what we need to look for when planning the new library,” she said. “It has been great to have Edge as a resource to help define a vision for the library and create an Edge Action Plan based on analytics and data that quantified our responses.”
Edge Benchmark 11 focuses on libraries accommodating users with disabilities, including having workstations low enough to accommodate wheelchairs. With this information, Lopez determined that the library’s computer desks were too high – an issue she plans to address in the new location.
“Edge has helped us justify our needs to the County Commissioners,” Said Lopez. “If we had more computers, which is what we are looking forward to with the new library, then we could offer more computer classes to people in the community.”
The library used the Edge National Peer Attribute Report and the information from their Edge Assessment Report to learn where they rank nationally and what improvements they need to make in order to meet or exceed the same benchmarks as their peers.
“Edge helps me see where our library stands in comparison to libraries of similar size and how we fit into that space,” said Lopez. “Sharing our Edge Results and our Action Plan with the library committee is easy because it’s so straightforward. It really helps as a collaboration tool.”
Edge users create an Action Plan based on the Edge Recommendations they receive after submitting the Assessment. Each Assessment question is assigned a level: Level 1, 2, or 3. While Level 3 Recommendations often require the most amount of time and resources, Level 1 Recommendations are considered foundational for libraries of all sizes and require the least amount of time and resources.
Lopez considers the ability to intuitively sort through the recommendations by level as one of the reasons that Edge is so “user friendly” for libraries.
“Edge is easy for me to use, allowing me to prioritize and organize the things we want to do,” she said. “This helps me plan and prioritize for the future. It shows me what I immediately need to look at and the things I can save for later down the road.”
Reeves County Library was introduced to Edge by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), which provided Edge subscriptions to each public library in Texas through the purchase of a statewide subscription.
“Looking at the Library Profiles on the Edge website is what originally told me we had to get on board,” said Lopez. “Reading the success stories from other libraries and learning how they used their Edge experience to justify getting new computers and technology improvements for the library was really encouraging to see. They used their Results to create an Action Plan, then used their Action Plan when they applied for grants.”
Edge remains a valuable resource to Reeves County Library, especially as they continue finalizing the plans for the new library.
“Edge is my ace in the hole,” said Lopez. “It has been a really great tool for us. Being able to compare across various regions and even the state of Texas – it has truly highlighted the priorities for the library, allowing us to discuss how these goals would affect our decisions about what to have at the new library.”