The Edge Initiative from a Small or Rural Library Perspective

Thank you to today's webinar guests, Mary Haney and Lee Ann Barnes, for sharing their experiences and insights about the Edge Initiative from a small and rural library perspective. Missed it? The session was recorded.

Mary Haney is the director of the Hennessey Public Library in Oklahoma, which has 3 full-time employees and serves a population of 2,156, with an annual budget of $110,235. Lee Ann Barnes is the director of the Okeene Public Library, also in Oklahoma. The Okeene Library serves a population of 1,208, with an annual budget of $36,500 and 22 full-time and 1 part-time staff members.


The Edge online assessment tool will be available to all public libraries in January 2014. For now, you can preview a PDF version. The assessment tool helped Mary and Lee Ann each identify strengths and potential areas for improvement.

Mary and Lee Ann each encouraged small libraries not to be disheartened by the things they cannot do, but instead to focus on what is relevant and attainable for your specific community. Lee Ann said she found it useful as a way to step back and look at the bigger picture:

This is not a competition.  This is an opportunity to step back and look at your library in the context of your location."

Both presenters expressed appreciation for the support and learning resources that were provided in addition to the assessment and action plan. Mary described the sharing that happens during the four online courses as "invaluable".


Is the Edge Initiative worth the investment of time? Yes! As Mary recommended, however, it will be important for smaller libraries to remember:

You can’t do it all.  Set priorities. Be realistic.  Adapt recommendations to your community."

Learn More

The Edge Initiative website is a great resource for learning more about the project. You can follow the project on Twitter and on Facebook. Questions can be emailed to help (at)

Join us for our next Edge webinar on Thursday, October 31st when we talk to Mick Jacobsen and Toby Greenwalt about building staff technology skills. Register today!