Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders – Notes from the class

On March 20, 2014,  HSLI sponsored the CE class “Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders” as a pre-conference to the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries conference.   The session sparked a lively discussion between academic and hospital libraries about what to assess, how to assess it, and how to effectively communicate assessment results.  The class was taught by Ruth Holst, Associate Director of the Greater Midwest Region, NN/LM.

Slides from the session are available on the HSLI website at

Both academic and hospital librarians at the session reported being under pressure from administration to prove their value to the organization.  Hospital librarians mentioned several recent library closures, underscoring the critical importance of stakeholder support to the survival of the library.  Academic librarians spoke about campus wide initiatives to cut expenses.  These cost-cutting measures do not exclude the library, and concerns were raised on how to protect vital services.

The first part of the class covered understanding the mission of the institution and making sure what the library does supports the institutional mission.  Applying this perspective to assessment, hospital libraries need to find measures that show how the library supports patient care.  Academic libraries need measures that show how the library affects student learning.

In addition to assessment to show value, librarians should also conduct assessment for service quality improvement.  One unique idea discussed  was recording  bibliographic instruction sessions and sharing them with students after the class.  This allows the students to review the material covered, and also allows the librarian to review his or her teaching.  Another tool discussed that is of value for both internal quality assessment and for showing value was Gimlet (   Gimlet is a comprehensive reference service tracking system that provides statistics on the usage of reference services, questions answered per staff member, time spent per question, and many other metrics.

Usage statistics are helpful in demonstrating library activities, but these implicit measures do not always fully illustrate how the library helps the institution meet its goals.  One method discussed to assess explicit value was to interview users about a “critical incident of use.”   As an examples of this technique,  an instructor would be asked  to describe a time when they used the library with a student and then describe what changed in the student’s work or practices as a result of using the library.  In a health care setting, a practitioner would describe a time when using library services resulted in a change to the care a patient received.  Another example is to try to capture a time when the library had prevented an adverse  event.  In an academic setting, this could be  asking students to describe a time when using the library saved them from performing poorly on an assignment.

Several methods to communicate assessment results back to stakeholders were presented.  One new technique is to create a “library dashboard.”  Dashboards are generally web-based and summarize a variety of  library statistics.  One example mentioned  was Regent,   For more information on library dashboards, see the following   webinar from the NN/LM South Pacific region

Dashboards quickly condense information about the library in an easy to read format.  Being able to quickly and effectively present information about the value of the library to stakeholders is vitally important.  Since opportunities to show the value of your library can happen unexpectedly, Ruth recommended that all librarians have an “elevator speech” prepared.  The elevator speech condenses vital information about the importance of your library to meeting institutional goals into a short statement that can be delivered in the time it takes to take an elevator ride.  With a speech prepared and  rehearsed, the next time you find yourself in an elevator with your director, dean, vice president, or other administrator you will be ready to tell him or her how your library supports your institution.

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Every Necessary Care and Attention: George Washington and Medicine, a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, will be on display at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, from August 4 – September 13, 2014.
Online Exhibition:

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Booth Library is finalist for National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced that Booth Library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community.

Medal finalists are selected from nationwide nominations of libraries and museums that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. Booth Library is one of 30 national finalists for the award, and one of only 15 libraries chosen from throughout the United States.

Booth Library was nominated based on its extensive program series and other events for the community. Series have included exhibits and programs based on different topics each semester, including America’s Music, Farm Life, Elizabeth I, Frankenstein, Benjamin Franklin, Teachers Tame the Prairie, Harry Potter’s World, Building Memories: Creating a Campus Community and the current program series, Muslim Journeys. These series have offered a variety of films, discussions, lectures, musical and theater performances, exhibits and other activities for free to the community.

In addition, Booth Library sponsors many other programs for the campus and community at large. For example, through the Booth After Hours program, specific campus groups are invited to the library after hours for programs designed specifically for them. Area high school classes regularly visit Booth Library for free instruction and research help from Booth reference librarians. For several years, the library has welcomed librarians from around the world as part of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs. In addition, the library recently hosted a reception for area librarians to network and reconnect.

“Our library is dedicated to quality public service,” said Allen Lanham, dean of library services. “We excel at providing materials and information to Eastern’s students and faculty. However, a major goal is to create an environment in which citizens in our region can explore topics of interest and take time to discuss issues with others as they remain active learners.”

Finalists for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

“Museums and libraries serve as civic gathering places, bringing together individuals in pursuit of educational resources, community connections, skills development, and multifaceted lifelong learning,” said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We are very proud to announce Booth Library as a finalist for the 2014 National Medal. This year’s National Medal finalists illustrate the many ways museums and libraries can excite lifelong learning and civic engagement.”

IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited Booth Library to “share their story” on the IMLS Facebook page,, which is accessible here. Community members are encouraged to visit the site to post comments, photos or videos demonstrating how Booth Library has made an impact on them.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners will be announced in April, and the medals will be awarded during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’ grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit or follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

This year, IMLS celebrates the 20th anniversary of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. For the past two decades, the National Medal has honored outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Including 2013 winners, 132 institutions have received this honor, and 10 additional institutions will be awarded in 2014.

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Action needed on Illinois HB3898–retirement funding

The Illinois Library Association is calling for action on Illinois House Bill 3898, which modifies the Illinois Pension Code.  Specifically, an amendment to the legislation eliminates the supplemental benefit payment–also referred to as the “13th payment”–from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).  The payment is essentially deferred compensation intended to balance out the rising cost of inflation, and it has been supported by the Illinois General Assembly since 1992.  Currently, each IMRF employer is required to contribute only 0.62% (less than 1 percent) of its annual IMRF funding to cover the 13th payment.  The average annual 13th payment to an IMRF retiree was $343 in 2013.
The IMRF has argued that, on top of the financial impact, cutting the 13th payment would violate the Illinois Constitution.  The Constitution protects benefits, including those under the 13th payment, for current and retired IMRF-covered employees.
The legislation was introduced on January 3 of this year.  It moved out of committee on March 25 and will now be considered by the full House.
For more information on the legislation and its potential effect on the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, please see the IMRF website, specifically and
To view information on the legislation itself, including updates on its status in the Illinois General Assembly, please visit

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Harry Potter’s World on display at SIU Medical Library

HPW-main“Harry Potter’s World:  Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine” will be available for viewing from March 10 through April 18 at the SIU Medical Library. This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and is  curated by Elizabeth J. Bland.

A special musical event, Music, Magic and Medicine,  will be held at 12:00 noon on March 19 featuring medical students Amanda Bakker and Carolyn Roloff each performing on harp and violin, respectively.  The library is located at 801 N. Rutledge, 4th Floor, Springfield, Illinois.  All are invited to attend this event, and refreshments will be served.



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IACRL Conference Open to HSLI Members


Register Now for the IACRL Conference

Advanced Registration Closes Friday, March 14

Register today for the 2014 IACRL Conference, which will be held Friday, March 21, at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook

IACRL President Pattie Piotrowski, Illinois Institute of Technology, hosted an informational webinar on the conference last Friday. You can access the webinar recording here for full details.  
IACRL Attendees will hear keynote luncheon speaker, 

Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director of Culture, Culture Services

for the City of Markham, Ontario and former Director of Service Excellence at Markham Public Library speak on “Telling the Impact Story – It’s Not Just in the Numbers.” Telling Our Story is important in our institutional lives and for our institutional futures. The full conference preliminary program is available online.


You do not have to be an IACRL member to attend the conference, although membership is free when you join ILA. Come and visit with us in Oak Brook in March where you’ll find a great group of your peers seeking to learn, teach and expand on what we know about assessment and preparing you to Tell YOUR Story, about your library.


For more information on the conference and to register, please visit the conference webpage.

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FY 2015 Federal Budget’s Impact on Health and Medicine Funding

This summary from California Healthline has a good overview of the impact that the president’s proposed FY 2015 budget will have on health and medical funding, and also what the initial reaction to some of the proposals has been.  Note that the largest cuts will be in Medicare and Medicaid, with an estimated $400 billion to be slashed over the next 10 years.  These reductions are not expected to be approved by the U.S. Congress, however, as there is strong bipartisan opposition.  (That is to be expected, given that Medicare and Medicaid are the programs with which constituents are likely the most familiar and from which they benefit the most directly.)  Funding for the National Institutes of Health will rise by about $200 million, although this increase is not considered sufficient to maintain research at the level necessary for competing with other countries.

Also, the Department of Health and Human Services has put together a detailed overview of the proposed budget, including a comparison with funding levels for the past few years, and also a breakdown of how funding levels will affect various programs and initiatives under government agencies related to health and medicine. (“HHS Budget in Brief” link, under “Table of Contents” and “HHS Budget”)

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FY 2015 federal budget

Yesterday (March 4), President Obama made his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year.  Overall, the requested budget funding for libraries is down slightly from what was actually enacted last year (by $412,000, or about 0.2 percent).  There has also been a cut in funding coming from LSTA (Library Services Technology Act), by $307,000, or approximately 1.3 percent.  During the last fiscal year, however, the enacted amount ended up being higher, in both instances, than the requested amount.  (The FY 2015 requested amounts are both higher than the FY 2014 requested amounts were.)  To make a long story short, even though the proposed funding levels are lower than the final levels for last year, it is possible that the final numbers for this year could be higher than last year’s were.

The page below includes a link to a chart with appropriations for the library-related sections of the federal budget, going back to fiscal year 2008.  (The numbers are in thousands.)  Although there were some increases at the beginning of the Obama presidency, there has been pretty much a steady decrease in all areas since, with the biggest falloffs occurring between FY 2010 and FY 2011.

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Illinois Senate Bill 3071–contract bids

I’d like to alert everyone to Illinois SB3071, which was introduced on February 7 and was assigned to the Local Government Committee on February 19.  The bill amends the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act of 1991.  Specifically, the legislation states that a library’s board will not be mandated to take the lowest bid for a contract covering specific projects.  This exception applies if the projected cost would be more than $20,000 and the bid would not meet a library’s standards for quality, deliverability, and serviceability.  Those contracts that are exempt from competitive bidding include those covering the printing of certain documents (such as finance reports), the use and installation of data-processing equipment, the provision of utility services (including water, heating, and lighting), and the procuring of goods and services from another government agency.  Emergency funding is exempt from competitive bidding if at least three-quarters of a library’s board members approved of the funding.

This legislation has significant implications for public library funding and local control.

To see additional information on the legislation, including the full text, click here.  The sponsor is Senator Bill Cunningham (Democrat, 18th District–Chicago).

Thank you.

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ILA Positions on Legislation

For anyone participating in the upcoming legislative meet-ups, here is an updated version of the “talking points” that focuses on specific legislation (first story in ILA e-newsletter).
“ILA Executive Board Determines Positions on Key Legislative Bills”
The state budget remains the primary concern, especially in retaining full funding for the Secretary of State’s per-capita grants to public libraries, and in restoring full funding for various grant programs affecting library systems and school libraries.  On the local level, maintaining the current level of property tax revenue, and ensuring the autonomy of library administrators, are the primary issues.  Other legislation of importance includes Senate Bill 1941 (preservation of Illinois legislation-related documents in electronic format), Senate Bill 2926 (increasing public access to government documents via the Internet, while ensuring continued access to those documents already available under the Freedom of Information Act), and SB2784 (overriding local discretion in the use of Internet filters).
Even if you cannot meet your elected officials in person, you can still send them a message on SB2784 by clicking on the provided links.  If you would like to voice your support for, or opposition to, any other legislation, you can find your legislators’ contact information at and

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