Trustee Tuesday: Research Matters

We have a problem at the system. We want the turnaround time to be faster between the moment of delivery to STLS (either through STLS delivery or direct from a vendor) and when the library receives its material for shelving. As a member of STLS’s Division of Sustainability, one of my priorities is the ensure that our services can be maintained through disruption and change – like hundred year blizzards (that appear to be annual), staffing shifts, and increases in member materials purchasing.

Last week we met to discuss how to make our collection services (processing, cataloging, finishing, and delivery) more efficient and effective. We realized that circumstances had changed so dramatically since the services were designed in 1959, that we needed additional information to map a path forward. We needed research. We launch a time study Monday and will be trialing different rhythms and methods over the coming weeks. In the coming months and years, our members will benefit from improved service because the hard working people in cataloging, processing, and delivery were purposeful, thoughtful, and innovative so that their hard work could mean big positive impacts. We can’t make effective change without research.

As our current research is to processing, so is the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the profession of librarianship. Brian has written to you at length about the direct dollars that come from the IMLS. In my work, the impact of IMLS is the evidence to back up our actions and best practices. They help our profession to be a profession rather than just a group of motivated do-gooders.

While consulting librarians would like to think that working at the system provides the consultants whose job it is to be your librarians gobs of research time, it is extremely rare that we conduct research beyond what a member library worker would do for a patron during a moderately complicated reference interview. Large studies looking at impacts of different styles of program and program delivery, building design, and collection management – event pest control (!) are outside of our capacty. Luckily, they are conducted and or funded by the IMLS. They are done or funded at the federal level because the results are common for libraries across the nation. Like, every teen needs programming highly relevant to their social experience. Sure, you knew that (maybe). We have evidence to back it up with program planning tips (thanks IMLS).

Our next Trustee Book Club focuses on papers – quite reader friendly research – that maps the future of libraries for us. They chose this as our next read because it excited them. Now we know that the primary support for most of these papers is defunded in the 2018 Federal Budget. Consider contacting your representatives to voice your opinion on that:

Trustee Book Club: The Future is Now
Trustee Book Club is open to all library trustees! Whoever shows up at the meeting gets to decide our next reading. Folks who came to STLS to discuss The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu last month chose to look at current thinking on best practices for libraries now and for years to come. Here’s a list of what we’ll be reading:

International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) drafted “Access and Opportunity for All“.
It’s pretty lengthy. To get an overview, check out the handout “Libraries Can Drive Progress“.

The Harvard Family Research Project and the Public Library Association teamed up to investigate how families use public libraries. The result is Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement. I love it.


The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the ALA hosted a yearlong national forum on library services to young adults. The result is The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action (often referred to as the YALSA Futures Report). The Executive Summary gives an overview of the issues identified and solutions developed.

The last piece of big research is Public Libraries and Effective Summer Learning: Opportunities for Assessment. Like all research, there is a summary – this one is called the Leadership Brief. Something I love about this IMLS funded research project is that it resulted in a toolkit as well. You can see all the resources created from this research here.

Anyone can read any of these papers. If you’d like me to, I’ll print, bind, and send via the delivery the papers for easier offline reading. Register for Trustee Book Club here and let me know if you’d like your readings printed and bound, if you just want the Digest version (just the summaries), if you’d like to attend in person, or if you’ll be reading on your own. I’ll be lining up a Skype guest for our meeting on May 9th at 2:30. Our location hasn’t been decided yet and will be based on who would like to attend (if everyone is from down east, it will be near STLS, if we have Allegany County or Yates County folks, the meeting will shift closer to those attendees).

Conversation is always lively and worth the visit, if you can make it! Also, I’m open to suggestion on times and dates for future meet-ups. I hope you’ll join us! To register, click here.

For all upcoming events, please visit the STLS program calendar.
As ever, please contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.
Yours in inquiry,