Founded in 1927, Tonkawa Public Library serves a community of approximately 3,200 residents and is located 100 miles north of Oklahoma City. The Tonkawa Public Library has four public access computers, high-speed internet access as well as free Wi-Fi and records over 17,000 visits per year. The library operates with a staff of three librarians including Director Elda Moore, who has held her position since 2004.
Moore and her staff undertook the Edge assessment with encouragement from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. To launch the process, Director Moore shared copies of the assessment workbook with her team, asking them to review the benchmarks and indicators and, “…see what you make of this, including what we could do better.” The team then met and worked through each benchmark. Their resulting score was 595 out of a possible 1,000 points.
Currently, the library is focusing its improvement efforts in two key areas. The first is adding Rosetta Stone language-learning software to their digital collection in order to meet the needs of a growing Hispanic population. Second, they are expanding their digital literacy assistance to include group-based instruction in addition to the one-to-one service currently provided. Beyond the practical efficiency of serving more patrons, they also see Edge as a means to foster peer-learning and coaching between patrons.
Moore and her staff are working to expand their high-speed internet capacity. This will enable them to purchase a greater variety of databases such as Ancestry.com which patrons have expressed great interest in using.
While the library’s ability to expand public access technology services is limited by budget and staff size, Moore sees the value in a more comprehensive understanding of overall digital capacity — both to make the most of what is currently available and to plan for the future. In recent years, the library has benefited from the support of a city manager who understands the value of the public library. Although the city manager has moved to another community, Moore believes that the Edge assessment data gives her a strong foundation to build a relationship with his successor.
Moore also anticipates that the data from the Edge assessment and related tools will continue to inform the library’s future work.
Moore encourages small libraries to call on community leaders for assistance in strengthening library services. “I worked for years to create a Friends Group,” she said. “Now that we have one, they are helping us purchase new equipment. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!”