This week our class is learning about the library’s monthly and annual reports. I’ve never put together a report for a library and wasn’t sure what expect. When I first read the assignment my first thought was, “Boring!” I think this would be the first thought to go through many people’s minds. A report is basically nothing more than a description of the goings on whatever is being examined. In this case the report examines the performance and usage of the library.
So what can one expect in a library report? A lot more than what you might expect. Instead of just a plain systematic report detailing the amount of users of databases, computer lab use, or book checkout, I discovered that reports can be interesting tools of promotion.
I don’t think there is a set standard for creating a monthly or even an annual report. Instead, I think the report takes on a life of its own. It embodies the creativity and uniqueness of the institution it represents. The report may have statistics, graphs, slide shows, videos, podcasts, and/or student work. The report is the library’s opportunity to let the administration know just how its programs are benefiting the building. After looking at several reports I found that I was more drawn to a report with a combination of reporting styles. However, if the page was too flashy or contained unnecessary wording it lost my attention. So there has to be a fine balance between entertaining and statistical analysis. In turn, if the report presented only a graph or an excel sheet of facts I was not able to fully grasp the significance of the programs being presented by the library.
Such was the case of a library I interviewed on 11 Oct 2010. The librarians at this particular high school are very nice and they are accommodating each time I visit. The library they run is beautiful and offers a variety of programs. Each visit, I’ve seen a room is bustling with activity. Students are using computers, sitting and doing homework, and browsing the collections of books. Upon entrance of the room, one can see posters advertising programs and activities. The library media center offers a great program and the librarians really care about the students. However, the monthly report does not reflect how much the library positively affects the school. The report is very systematic, boring.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great reporting system. Each month the librarians create a report based on student sign-ins and on-line scheduling forms. The report is handed over to the Media Coordinator who then collects data from all the schools in the district, creates graphs, systematically develops an over all Excel sheet, and turns in an annual report to the principal and school board.
The report is not on-line for public viewing; however, it is available upon request.
The monthly report I viewed was well done and easy to understand. It detailed library usage of each department, whether library time was led by the teacher or the LMS, how many books were circulated, the total amount of computer lab usage, subject assessments tests provided, and collaboration efforts. I think it is a fine report. However, it could be spruced up a bit with a few pictures and perhaps a video depicting some of the really neat programs offered by the library. A few teacher and student comments about the benefits of the library and it’s professionally trained staff would also go a long way to making the report more than just a monthly examination. It could also be a way to help solidify job security.
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