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    ALA 2013 iMapLibraries Slides

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Join iMapLibraries at ALA 2013!

The iMapLibraries team is presenting at American Library Association Annual Conference 2013 in Chicago at Hilton Chicago’s Astoria Room, 8:30-10am on Saturday, June 29 – join us to discuss putting libraries on the map (http://www.imaplibraries.org) and using data to show how libraries help people.  Hope to see you there!


(l-r) Dean Jue, Lorri Mon and Christie Koontz, iMapLibraries



Beyond Books: Libraries Helping the Community


How do public libraries help communities?  Here are some real-world examples of the wide-ranging ways libraries help people:

Supporting teachers – many libraries offer a special teacher’s library card with extended benefits, plus additional help such as Miami Dade Public Library’s JumpStart Storytime Kit for Pre-K and Kindergarten programs, King County Library’s KidReach Bookboxes with 80 books every 50 kids, or Multnomah Library’s Buckets of Books with 24-30 books on a topic plus a teacher’s guide, as well as help with customized book collections and webliographies; 

Supporting students and helping homeschoolers – beyond all the ways we know libraries already help students, Multnomah County Library has a homeschooling liaison to help homeschooling parents; live online homework tutoring is a special extra support offered on many library web sites – as seen for example at Houston Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library;

Helping jobseekers – libraries provide classes, workshops, resources, and individual assistance to job seekers such as drop-in job club and career coaching sessions at New York Public Library, and Pierce County Library’s “library in a bag briefcases” of job seeking and small business resources.  Some libraries such as Fond du Lac Public Library run computer labs and resource centers for job seekers — Memphis Public Library even operates a JobLinc mobile career/job center bus bringing the help to the job seekers;

Supporting small business – some libraries offer special programs supporting small businesses – for example Grand Rapids Public Library operates a small business research center, and at North Richland Hills Public Library you can schedule individualized small business counseling sessions;

Supporting nonprofits – at Fayetteville Public Library, a Nonprofit Resource Center helps individuals and nonprofit organizations identify potential grant funding sources, while Monroe County Public Library’s  Nonprofit Central offers one-on-one counseling for nonprofits;

Helping seniors – many libraries such as Pikes Peak Library offer special resources and classes for seniors; often libraries will deliver items to homebound seniors, as with Jasper County Library’s “walking books” program; Forsyth Public Library among others provides “BiFolkal Kits” designed to spur reminscence and reflection for seniors;

Helping disabled users – libraries often have accessible computers and programs to help disabled users; at Eugene Public Library, a Braille embosser can print documents in Braille, and Nashville Public Library has special library services for the deaf and hard of hearing;

Providing bilingual and ESL services – Forsyth Public Library operates a Spanish Bookmobile called the “Bibliobus”; Jasper County Library is one of many that teach English as a Second Language and offer bilingual computing stations; Fresno Public Library has staff fluent in Spanish, Russian, Armenian, Punjabi, French, Hindi, Arabic and a variety of Asian dialects and operates a Spanish/English bookmobile service called AprendoVan;

Supporting the local arts community – many libraries offer display and performance spaces for local writers and artists, such as the Art and Display space at Flathead County Library; also the Marin Free Library showcases local Marin poets in a digital archive;

Teaching technology skills  – many libraries teach classes and workshops on computers and technology skills. King County Library System operates a mobile Techlab bus for teaching computer classes “on the go,” and Westport Public Library is among those offering a Makerspace with a 3-D printer.

That’s just a small sampling of how libraries are helping people in local communities.  How does your library help – what special programs and services are offered at your library? 

– Lorri Mon, Associate Professor at Florida State University, for iMapLibraries [Showcase the programs and services at your library – you can put your library on the map for classes and workshops, senior services, Spanish services and special spaces such as homework centers, computer labs, meeting rooms etc. at iMapLibraries]

Placing Public Libraries at the Common Core


Everyone is buzzing about the Common Core, but are public libraries joining the Common Core conversation?  Reading is at the center of this discussion – creating a powerful opportunity for libraries to demonstrate their valuable role and contributions. 

How does the Common Core work for reading?  In brief, the Common Core assigns Lexile ranges as targeted reading levels for students at each grade level.  For students graduating high school to be “college and career ready,” the target is to be reading books at the 1450 Lexile score level.  For younger students, here are K-12 Common Core grade levels and Lexile reading level target ranges.  You can look up Lexile scores of specific books online using a “Quick Book Search,” or search by Lexile score to find recommended books in a variety of subject categories.

This brings up the question – are we tracking the data that would show funders and government officials how our public libraries are supporting the Common Core?  For example – does your library track data showing Lexile ranges of books checked out from the juvenile collection during a summer reading program, or other data that shows how the library supports public schools teaching the Common Core?  Is there other data we should be tracking to help better make our case about how libraries support teachers, schools, students, and Common Core reading goals?  Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this! 

– Lorri Mon, Associate Professor at Florida State University, for iMapLibraries

(For more about the Common Core, see Paige Jaeger’s blog post on Lexiles & Readability; you can also download Common Core language arts and math quick reference apps for Android and iPhone/iPad)

The Impact of the Library on Lives

We all collect data in our work on libraries, but is it the right data to be able to tell the story of our library’s impact on people’s lives?

When a member of Congress asks – “how has the library helped my constituents?” are we able to answer?

We can talk about total books circulated, but not about how many people sought jobs or retrained for careers at the library. girl reading a book
We can show total reference questions answered, but not how the library has improved the reading ability of schoolchildren.

This is a problem, because our data should be showing the fundamental role the library plays toward solving society’s critical issues – helping people to educate themselves and raise themselves out of poverty, improve their health and nutrition, increase their reading ability, find and apply for jobs, and learn to use technologies.

What are the new metrics for demonstrating the library’s impact on people’s lives? In iMapLibraries, we’re exploring new metrics for “putting libraries on the map” for special programs and services offered in libraries such as:

classes and workshops (computers, ESL, workforce readiness, health, e-government assistance and more)
senior services (such as homebound delivery programs)
Spanish services (such as reference services in Spanish, workshops in Spanish)
Special spaces available (such as fab labs/Makerspaces, homework centers, meeting rooms etc.)

But libraries do more to help people in our community, and here are some metrics that could help to show that:

How has the library helped people retrain and improve their employability? [Circulation of — test-taking prep books and software for GED and other exams, use of test prep digital resources in the library; counts of reference questions answered on exam prep]
How has the library helped people seeking jobs? [Counts for – use of job seeking books and digital resources, attendance at workshops on resume writing and job seeking skills; counts of reference questions answered on job seeking and resume writing]
How has the library helped people start small businesses? [Circulation of – books on starting a small business and writing a small business plan, attendance at workshops on small business; counts of reference questions answered on starting a small business and writing small business plans]

How could we track these new metrics of the library’s impact on lives? Some possibilities:

in-house usage reshelving counts of “how to” books left out each day on technology, exam prep, job seeking and small business startup;
circulation statistics for exam prep, job seeking and small business startup items checked out with a library card; and,
attendance statistics for workshops from signup sheets, library card checkins, head counts, or filled/empty seat counts during the session

Does your library have a way of tracking and counting data that helps you to show an impact on people’s lives? Please share your ideas in the comments or email me at imaplibraries@gmail.com – I’d love to hear about it!
— Lorri Mon, Associate Professor at Florida State University, for iMapLibraries