TechSoup Global has been working on the Public Access Technology Benchmarks project for over a year now, and we're excited to share what we've learned, and what we hope will be useful tools for the library community.
Not just benchmarks: tools
The products we're creating are far more than benchmarks. As my talented colleague Laura Staley, Project Manager at the Urban Libraries Council said just this morning, "the benchmarks are like a scale you use in a weight loss program. They aren't the entire weight loss plan." The benchmarks are a foundation to understand the key services, factors, and priorities that comprise excellent service sector-wide. Over time and with your help, we'll create support materials that bring to life examples from libraries excelling in certain areas and tips on how to follow in their footsteps.
You're creating them
These benchmarks weren't created in a vacuum. Countless librarians, IT staff, and subject matter experts have weighed in thus far, participating in a wide variety of focus groups, interviews, and surveys. Thanks to everyone who has helped us get this far. We hope you will continue to make the benchmarks better and more useful.
We're not yet done
From the very beginning, I've struggled with how folks working on the project--including me--have used the word "beta" as it pertains to the first draft of the benchmarks, because the benchmarks will always be in a state of beta. It's a living project, evolving over time just like librarianship and technology. Over time, different hands will mold and form the tools to fit the sector's needs. To support those future handlers, my colleagues at OITP are creating process documents to help shape and inform iterations. It's a pretty comprehensive and all-inclusive project that has seen fits and starts like any large endeavor, but now we're ready for the next stage.
A benchmark teaser
If you've been following the project or if you participated in early feedback efforts, you likely have not yet seen the product of your labors. We've been working hard to collate and incorporate all of your ideas--the positive and frankly, most importantly, the negative. All of this effort will bring us to Dallas for ALA MidWinter on Jan 21st, where the Urban Libraries Council will lead a session to share the first draft of the benchmarks and invite feedback. Soon after, the benchmarks will be shared more broadly and in full, but for now, here's a sneak peek at a sample benchmark:
What will get you to Yes?
Take a look at this benchmark and related indicators and consider your library. Is this relevant to your library? Does it make sense? Take this exercise one step further and consider what you would need to answer "yes, we do that" to each of the indicators' bulleted points. What would help you get to Yes? Do you want to get to Yes? We'd love to hear what you think. Please provide your comments in a two-question survey, or leave a comment below.
If you'll be in Dallas later this month at MidWinter, please look for and attend the session about the Edge Initiative--the benchmark project's fancy new name--and be sure to say hi to Stephanie Gerding and me. If you won't be there, no worries: return back here for more information on the benchmarks and to learn how you can get involved.