Manitoba Public Library Services Branch Brandon MB

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Provincial Library Case Study

LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service

Manitoba Public Library Services Branch Brandon MB

Interview with Will Enns, Program Coordinator

The Manitoba Public Library Services Branch administers grant and funding programs, provides professional support, and coordinates technology throughout the province. The Branch is mandated by the provincial government to maintain statistics for the public libraries in the province.

The Challenge: Collecting and managing data in English and French from a large group of libraries

Manitoba has almost sixty library systems, most of them very small, serving a population of 1.1 million residents over a large geographic area. According to Will Enns, Program Coordinator, this made it difficult to collect information, taking several months to gather the statistical data Manitoba requires, enter it and produce a report. “Complying with our mandate to collect and report on public library statistics required a significant investment in staff time,” says Enns. “We were compiling and producing a substantial printed document for peer comparison. Rekeying inevitably led to some errors, which then required producing addendums. The report needed to be delivered in English and French, since Manitoba is officially a bilingual province. It was virtually impossible to meet the libraries’ demand to get them the statistics they needed when they needed them.”

The LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service Solution: Enhancing standard data with board member information

The Public Library Services Branch implemented LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service in 2007. The change allowed libraries to do the data entry on their own, with the data published immediately to the web. Enns says that when they first implemented LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service they didn’t want to complicate the transition by introducing new data fields so they started with the standard fields. Now, he says, they add new fields every year, the most recent being questions related to ebook usage and formats. Reports can be generated quickly and easily in multiple formats.

Additionally, they found that LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service could assist the Branch in keeping track of library board members. “Each library has its own board with a minimum of seven members. By collecting and managing board member information we help our libraries be more aware of what the rules and regulations are regarding terms of office.”

Annually the Branch asks the libraries to complete a board member form on which data from the previous year have been pre-entered. The form tracks standard contact information as well as the date each board member was appointed and whether he or she is a member of the district’s municipal council. “Tracking board appointments through the Branch means that every year libraries review their list of board members to see whose term is expiring, ensuring their roster is current and that they have board representation from their municipal council, as is required. Using LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service to track board member terms is far easier than managing data in a spreadsheet and helps our libraries be in compliance with regulations related to board membership,” he says.

Statistiques sur les bibliothèques publiques du Manitoba

Manitoba has the largest French-speaking population west of Quebec, says Enns. Every communication from the Branch must be issued in French as well as English. All aspects of their LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service implementation are available in French, completely parallel to the English version, not as an add-on.

“Counting Opinions offered LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service with all the generic information in French. We then translated everything specific to our data into French, including all our Performance Indicator descriptions.” Enns says this one-time investment of resources enables them to use LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service in compliance with bilingual laws and was well worth the time to get it done.

Streamlined and visual report management facilitates benchmarking

According to Enns, prior to LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service libraries needed until the end of March to enter data for the previous year. Now, he says, the Branch inputs the libraries’ financial data and libraries update their general data including hours of operation, circulation, ILL, number of library computers, computer bookings, personnel profile, educational level of staff, gate count, reference questions and more. Because it is so easy to enter data in LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service the deadline for data entry is now January 31, with reports published to the web shortly after that.

In addition to using the reports for tracking their own statistics, libraries also can use the reports to show their boards and municipal councils how they stack up against similar libraries in the province. “LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service gives our libraries access to data about all Manitoba public libraries shortly after year’s end. This allows libraries to begin conversations with their board and councils early in the year about areas where they believe they are falling short, using LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service data as support for needing more materials, longer hours, additional personnel or larger facilities.”

Enns says the ability to produce bar graphs with LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service is especially helpful. When you show people visually where their library ranks in designated categories (for example in floor space per capita or circulation per capita) it’s very apparent if they are near the top, in the middle, or at the bottom. He says libraries have been able to use these reports to show why they need a larger facility. “The graphic impact of a bar chart can be quite compelling,” he says. “When people see where their library falls, they understand the issues instantly. The beauty of the LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service reports is their flexibility – if you can think of it you can probably do it.”

Enns sums up the value of using LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service in these ways:

  • Saves staff time. “We’re mandated to deliver statistics and this streamlines the process to comply with the mandate.”
  • Facilitates library benchmarking. The Manitoba Ready Reports make it easy to show library performance and benchmark against similar size libraries. The reports also offer a high-level view at the provincial level.
  • Tracks trends in individual libraries. LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service allows a library to build a profile over time, showing growth or decline in defined areas. This type of trend reporting would have been very difficult with print reports.
  • Educates and motivates library staff. The use of bar graphs makes the statistics more interesting to review. This encourages more staff to become actively engaged in their library’s progress.

As for the experience in working with Counting Opinions, Enns says the staff provides excellent support and is very responsive to questions and ideas. And, he adds, “I like that Counting Opinions understands our bilingual issue and government structure. That was a big help to us in setting up LibPASLibrary Performance Assessment Service to work the way we needed it to work in Manitoba.”

About Counting Opinions

Facing constant competitive challenges, libraries and library organizations need better tools to understand and manage customer needs and to compete more effectively for scarce resources. In business since 2004, Counting Opinions provides libraries and library organizations with a cost-effective, evidence-based management solutions’ platform for the comprehensive management of their performance and customer satisfaction data. Solutions for custom surveys, open-ended customer feedback, trends, benchmarking, outcomes and peer comparisons are also available.

Note: Interview conducted and case study prepared by JAM Marketing LLC.

Please cite this article as: Manitoba Public Library Services Branch Brandon MB; Interview with Will Enns, Program Coordinator