KM Today

Measures bloody measures

Dr. Bill Irwin I owe you. You talked about performance measures and the logic model work by the Kellogg Foundation in February at OLA’s Superconference, and I didn’t follow up on it. Thankfully you were one of the highly informative speakers at Designing New Metrics for Libraries this past week and you again talked about Kellogg. This time I looked into it. BAZINGA!

Moe Hosseini-Ara @ City of Markham and I have been working on measures and, more specifically the logic model, for libraries for the last number of years. In fact, we are teaching a course on planning & measures at CLA on May 28th, and as a “working” course those attending will actually “work” on measures for their library (academic, public, government or whatever type of library).


There are many sources and tools to refer to as you are assessing services and programs, including articles Moe & I wrote for libraries using the logic model last summer.   But it is so important to see how other organizations offering similar information-based services develop their measures. Have a look at the report shown here: IMPACT: A Practical Guide to Evaluating Community Information Projects by the FSG Knight Foundation.  Better yet, follow FSG’s works.

Impact – that’s what we want. Community Information – that’s the business we are in, and certainly want to be seen as being in. So what can we learn from FSG? Lots.

“This guide will take you through the essential steps for designing an evaluation of your community
information project. These steps explain what to do and consider at different stages of the
evaluation process.”  The difference in how they design and develop their program or service from the way that many libraries develop their program or service is that they build evaluation and measurement in at the design phase.  If you already take this approach, then congrats – you are ahead of the curve.  But many libraries do not.  Evaluation is a critical element of any program or service.

The questions FSG asks as they develop a program can be, and should be asked by all those in the community change business – and that’s libraries, correct? In fact, the project FSG addresses is one that is so dear to the heart of many libraries: “residents are hungry to contribute to local news and information and engage in community issues but lack the tools to do so…… the project will  provide training, platforms and support to residents in order to empower underrepresented voices among the people of the specific community.”  

The questions they address as they design the program are the questions libraries address:

  1. What change do we want to see in the community? 
  2.  What is the issue? Who is affected by it? Why are you taking action? 
  3.  What will we do to address the issue?  And, I’d add here – Who else should we work with to address this? 
  4.  Although FSG asks “If the project is successful”, we should ask “When the program succeeds, what change, among which members of the community, do you hope to see?

And then we must ask:

What resources do we need?
How do we best use these resources? 
What activities need to occur? What are the tangible products of these activities?


FSG doesn’t ask some of these questions, but I encourage you to ask,

What’s our pilot phase? 
What changes do we expect to occur within the short term? (and define “short term” – 3 weeks? 3 months?)

 What changes do we want to see within the mid-term? (define mid-term)

What changes do we hope to see over time? (yep – define long-term or over time) 

This tool, and many of the tools from FSG are very valuable as we learn from other, community focused organizations.  Keep FSG in your sights. Keep Bill Irwin in your sights.

Oh – and don’t forget.  The last question you should always ask as you design a new service or program is:

“How will we celebrate when we complete our pilot phase? ” 

Just as we tend to forget to factor in evaluation and pilots into the design, we also overlook the celebration. And in this profession, we need to celebrate. A lot.


Thank YOU!

St George dayOver the last several weeks I have had a tremendous number of “thank yous” for putting together programs for recent events — Computers in Libraries 2014 in DC with the  theme Hack the Library! and Defining New Metrics for Library Success in Toronto.  It really gives me a blast when topics resonate, conversations abound, and directions are influenced!  Learning and growing is so important to me just like the image of today’s Google doodle for St. George’s day — it’s my dragon.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to put together events that make that happen.   It is gratifying to see comments on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs about the events — positive comments are really appreciated but also suggestions or gaps — I really do try to build on feedback!   At this moment, on an event high,  I want to thank all those who help me put together programs, speak about their experiences, insights and ideas, lend their expertise to communicate and share with others, suggest topics for new events, attend the events and find them valuable.  You know who you are — almost everyone I know!  Thank YOU!

Reframing our approach to measures

A great day at Defining New Metrics for Library Success, organized by Jane Dysart & Stephen Abram at the iSchool on April 22/23 this week. With 100 people attending (the room couldn’t accommodate any more!), this is still a very hot issue for libraries. Here’s the presentation I was honoured to give with Joe Matthews.  Joe is now working with PLA to develop common outcome measures for all public libraries regardless of their size or geography.


Startup Weekend for Library Innovation!

StartupWeekendTO_LibraryEdition_v1-1024x418Dysart & Jones is a sponsor and has been observing and participating in the world’s  first library edition of Startup Weekend!  Very exciting!  With global sponsors like Google, Coca Cola and Amazon, Startup Weekend is all about action, not talk.  We heard the pitches for MVPs — minimally viable products — on Friday evening;  and teams of librarians, designers and techies have been working on those MVPs ever since.  I’m looking forward to hearing the presentations later today:

1. Space Valet

2. Sticky Bookmarks

3. theBIKEproject

4. Raise Your Reader

5. Maker Library

6. Project Eeyore

7. SignWave

8. Hub

9. PixelBook

10. CCBB

11. Brooklist

David Weinberger, author of lots of terrific books, and soon to be the opening keynote speaker at Computers in Libriaries 2014 in Washington DC, April 7-9, is one of the judges of the MVP presentations this afternoon.  Other judges are Beth Jefferson, CEO, Bibliocommons;  Michelle McBane, Director, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund; Chris Eben, Partner, The Working Group; and Candace Faktor, GM, Wattpad.  It will be interesting to see what they have to say and who wins prizes for this weekend’s creative and innovative library product designs.  We will be sharing more about this exciting one-of-a-kind event.



Bridging the Future with the Present

Great piece by Bruce Rosenstein on bridging the future with the present called, Leaders must Meet their Future Selves.  It includes interesting research:

“In experiments with undergraduates, Hershfield discovered that students who were shown a digitally aged image of themselves allocated twice as much to their retirement accounts as those who didn’t see themselves as they aged. Hershfield says that “looking ahead in time and feeling a sense of connection to one’s future self can impact long-term financial decision-making, converting a consumer into a saver.” People with this “future self-continuity” also accumulate more assets than others, including owning their own homes and having bigger bank accounts.”

A tip for bridging the future with the present: Write “post-dated letter from your future self to your present self about specific achievements and successes in the future.”

“For leaders, it’s especially important to bridge the present and future. Leaders have to define the future not only for themselves but also for their organizations. Still, with the extraordinary demands and difficulties of each present day, it’s easy to let the urgency of today cause you to squander the opportunities of tomorrow.

Odds are, the success of your organization will depend on how well you figure out the future. Here are five strategies to help crystallize the future into the present moment and draw you closer to your future self.

  1. See yourself as the leader you could become.
  2. Create your future in the here and now.
  3. Design a better tomorrow for others.
  4. Resist going only for quick wins.
  5. Think with a beginner’s mind. “

Rebecca and I have used a number of the techniques that Bruce mentions in his piece and can attest to the fact that they work!  Check the entire article.  Good for those thinking and wanting to plan their future and those of their organizations!

The Future of Libraries, Toronto &DC!

The Future of Libraries has been a topic of conversation for many years, but some of think there is a greater sense of urgency surrounding the topic these days.  With the extremely fast evolution of technology, the scarcity of resources of all types including money, and the shifts in culture and society, our world is changing very quickly as are the expectations of our stakeholders and customers.  Are libraries adapting, innovating, and changing at a fast pace too?  Some are, most are not.  We have started a Facebook page and LinkedIn group to talk about The Future of Libraries.  We hope you will join us in the conversation.

In addition, Dysart & Jones is working with Ken Haycock & Associates to offer a new two day event at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, May 1st  & 2nd, called The Future of Libraries: Do we Have 5 years to Live?    A great line-up of speakers is being featured, so check it out here.  We hope that lots of you will be able to join us in person for the conversation in Toronto, but if not, certainly join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook.  See you there!

AND, if you are in the DC area, we are working with Information Today to offer a different but related  two day event, The Future of Libraries Survival Summit which focuses on a number of tools for libraries to use as they face the future!  It also includes one on one interviews and conversations with David WeinbergerCo-Director, Harvard Library Innovation Lab; Senior Research, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society; & Author, Too Big To Know; Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, & Co-Author, Cluetrain Manifesto as well as Mary Lee Kennedy, Deputy Chief Librarian, New York Public Library and formerly, Senior Associate Provost and at Harvard University, Executive Director of Knowledge and Library Services at Harvard Business School, and Direction, Knowledge Network, Microsoft.  This summit also features Dan Rasmus, futurist, strategist and industry analyst and formerly Director, Business Insights, Microsoft.  Hope you can join us!

Building the Future: Thinking, Planning, Doing

Rebecca and I do a fair amount of writing about critical thinking, thinking strategically, as well as all types of planning.  Here’s what Rebecca wrote last year when we did a workshop at the SLA conference in San Diego, Strategic Thinking Takes Time.  We have broadened that workshop to one we are calling, Building the Future: Thinking, Planning, Doing and will be offering it at a terrific venue (The Vancouver Club) with several other colleagues on June 6th in Vancouver prior to the SLA annual conference.  

In addition to interactively talking and discussing thinking and planning, in this new one day workshop we will include some tips and examples of going beyond thinking and planning to implementing and doing.  The full program is here.    Hope you can join us.  Register here.

Driving Our Community's Digital Destiny

IL14It is hard to believe that this fall we will be attending the 18th Internet Librarian conference, Oct 27-29, in Monterey, CA.  In 1997 the Internet was young and we were all wondering what to do with it and how we could use it.  Now we are creating amazing services, sharing information strategies with our communities, and taking a leadership role in our community’s digital destiny.  I hope you will share your expertise and knowledge at this year’s event.  Call for speakers is here and includes a list of possible topics — but feel free to create your own.  Do it now, though, as the deadline is the end of next week!  Thanks.




Better Together @ UofToronto Scarborough Campus Library

Even though OLA Super Conference 2014 is behind us, I wanted to highlight an excellent showcase of teamwork and bridging communication silos: Better Together: Empowering Library Staff through Mentoring and Collaboration” from Sarah Forbes, Liaison Librarian, Physical and Environmental Sciences and Sue Reynolds, Reference Assistant; U of T Scarborough. A PDF of their presentation is here: OLA SC Session 612- Better Together

Here are my notes:

The issue

  • Liaison Librarian model in place since 2011, where librarians have more instructional duties and are not on the reference desk.
  • Technicians have solo desk shifts, with 5 people covering the desk between 9am and 9pm. 2 new positions were created to aid this. Each technician has about 3 hours on desk with the rest completing other duties off desk.
  • Resulted in communication silos: Librarians were on-call and not always available; Technicians new to reference at U of T were providing conflicting information to students for recurring projects and other issues; and the reference coordinator librarian overseeing the function also had liaison librarian duties.

 Searching for a solution

  •  Having a binder of information, assignments, and recurring issues was tried at the desk, but it didn’t really work as it was incomplete and adhoc.
  • Staff tried to email tips for different questions with attempts to answer, but stopping a reference interview to check email proved difficult.
  • Using the Blackboard program for course management was tried, but didn’t catch on.

 Strategic Plan Process

  •  Technicians provided input into the strategic plan. An exercise with post-it notes with duties and how they tied into the strategic plan was performed.
  • There showed a desire to participate in the liaison alignment, and then technician-librarian pairings were made based on interests of technicians and connection to liaison librarians.
  • It was then left to the pairs to decide how they would manage this.

Sue and Sarah were paired and out of all the groups, seemed to have the most success. Their model included:

  • Meeting every week to talk about what they expected out of the experience and as a catch-up
  • Resources review for Sue to review the tools including participating in a Chemistry workshop with Sarah to new students
  • Walking through all assignments and questions that are commonly asked

Working Together

  •  When Sarah was to have a meeting about a new tool, she brought Sue along with her rather than telling her about the tool so that they could learn together. (Ensuring Sue’s availability through Ref. manager was performed first).
    • After this meeting, they debriefed and saw that each person got something different out of the meeting and these notes proved important for each person.
  •  Sarah has then encouraged Sue’s professional development and a respect and understanding of each other was developed. Sue was also able to extend her network into the university rather than exclusive to those that visit/ use the library.
  •  Sue and Sarah also worked together to demonstrate a tool to Fall class sessions with Sarah teaching, and Sue ensuring students stayed on target and helping them when they got lost. This also gave Sarah a view on her teaching style and how it could improve/ what worked well. This was important when students give false comprehension, as is common.
    •  Through this, Sue was able to give extended support and was a familiar face to those students. This gave students more comfort when coming to the reference desk.
  • Also, through the fall and winter term, Sue and Sarah had monthly meetings to keep on track.
  •  As an investment into bettering her assignments, Sarah gave these to Sue beforehand to test out potential difficulties. This allowed for less mistakes and issues when the students received it. This helped to keep Sue in line with Sarah’s work.


  • Sue was invested in the process
  • Sarah and Sue were more informed about each other’s work and issues raised
  • Students had a more consistent message
  • Students became more familiar with staff
  • Faculty got more feedback on student questions
  • Faculty and students had real time updates to course guides through Blackboard

 Year 2

Continued to review with each other and new review of LibGuides, project work, and the professional development form.

Professional development form used to:

  • Record activities and accomplishments
  • Reflect and set goals
  • Highlight strengths and unique skills
  • ID professional development needs
  • Contribute to library planning

This is NOT a performance evaluation and because of union issues, it was imperative to demonstrate this through it being voluntary and not used to measure.

  •  A Y/N and scale grade was used to mark.
  • Intent of form was for it to be completed at the beginning and end of year to see how things improved.
  • Subject based, and included grading reference activity skill.
  •  These are NOT permanent partnerships and there is possibility for reference technicians to switch around, providing it is desired.

 Lessons learned

  • Think big, start small
  • Find what works for you
  • Do something – whatever that may be

Defining New Metrics for Library Success: April 22-23, 2014

2014 iSchool @ Toronto Symposium Series: Defining New Metrics for Library Success on Tuesday &Wednesday April 22-23, 2014, Toronto

Are you ready to communicate to your funders and community the real value that your library contributes?

success measures with ruler 001


Following the University of Toronto iSchool Institute’s two very successful symposia, Creative Making in Libraries & Museums  and Pushing the Envelope in Education: Roles for Libraries in MOOCs and eLearning we are pleased to introduce our third symposium: Defining New Metrics for Library Success.

All libraries are challenged to communicate their value in uncertain fiscal and changing environments. Our communities, boards, management and institutions are asking for stronger and better measurements of our impact and value to help them with decision making and prioritization.

This symposium is about the various metrics and measures the library sector and discipline uses to manage what it is doing (it’s activities and individual services) and the value of what it is doing. These are very different measurement objectives and processes, yet complementary and vital.  It discusses  “measurement” in a broad sense, including the value of selected services as well as the overall management of processes and services. It is very important that people in the library sector are aware of different measures – - with different objectives.  Who knows where new ideas will come from? All libraries can learn from each other.

This two-day event illustrates the breadth and depth of the challenge for stronger and better measurements of our impact and value:

  • Explores opportunities for new value measurements
  • Puts metrics into the context of libraries
  • Shares exciting measurement programs already in place by pioneers
  • Suggests areas for future endeavours
  • Features leading edge thinkers and practitioners

Explore with your colleagues the opportunities and practices in both qualitative and quantitative measurements as well as best practices in visualization of data and communicating with our funders, management, councils and more.

Early bird registration is OPEN; OLA and FOPL members are eligible for special rates.


  • Jane Dysart, Dysart & Jones Associates
  • Stephen Abram, FOPL, Dysart & Jones Associates
  • Dr. Robert Molyneux
  • Dr.Mary Cavanagh,University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Bill Irwin, Western      University / Huron College
  • Jeff Wisniewski, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr.Ken Haycock, iSchool Professor and Director, Marshall Business School, University of Southern California
  • Rod Sawyer, Ontario Ministry of Culture Libraries Branch
  • Moe Hosseini-Ara. Town of Markham
  • Anita Brooks Kirkland, OLA
  • Carol Koechlin, TDSB      (retired)
  • Jeanne Conte, Peel DSB
  • Brendan Howley, Social Media Guru
  • Carl Thompson, Counting Opinions
  • Rebecca Jones, Dysart & Jones Associates

University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, iSchool Institute
140 St George Street, 7th Floor, Toronto, ON (map)


  • Ontario Library Association
  • Federation of Ontario Public Libraries
  • University of Toronto iSchool Institute

Gold Sponsor

Counting Opinions