In an era of extensive building and remodeling of library facilities, the Minnesota Department of Education is reporting drops in the number of visits, registered users and loans of material. The use of library computers is down sharply, as the number available to the public surges.
That’s a classic case where numbers can deceive, [Ali] Turner [Hennepin County Public Library] said. “We are not solely focused on volume but on quality,” she said. “When we do a workshop for artists on business plans, or writing workshops, we may not draw 300 people … but we are perfectly comfortable with a high-impact strategic approach.”
Amid some skepticism from analysts, there’s a move away from quantity measures and toward attempts to document the quality of what libraries do. There’s a lot of buzz about the national Public Library Association’s “Project Outcome,” described as an effort to “help public libraries understand and share the true impact of essential library services and programs.”