Monday, February 2nd, Noon - 1:30; Bloedel Hall 070
Note: Lunch will be served at noon the common area outside of Bloedel 070; the presentation will begin at 12:30
Talk Title: Results from the national Edge Assessment sample
Abstract: The Edge Initiative is a suite of tools designed to help public libraries assess and improve public technology services. The Initiative is designed around a set of benchmarks and indicators that were identified through research and best practices as important for helping library patrons achieve their desired outcomes in using public technology. The toolkit includes an assessment survey that asks libraries about the technology resources and services they provide, as well as the activities they engage in to align the library’s programs to the needs of their communities. Last year, the US Impact Studies research group at the UW iSchool asked a stratified representative sample of public libraries to complete the assessment so that the Initiative would have benchmark data to understand the national landscape of public technology in libraries, and so that libraries would have peer comparison data to help them prioritize activities that may increase the effectiveness of their technology programs.
This research conversation will present an overview of the Edge Initiative and then focus on the results of the national sample assessment data. Attendees will learn where public libraries are excelling and struggling with offering technology resources, what activities they would like to engage in, and how libraries in different types of communities compare to each other and the national averages. Future librarians will benefit from this presentation by learning about how evaluation using common benchmarks and indicators can help libraries with strategic planning and decision making and understanding where the library field stands today in terms of public technology and where it needs to go to support the aspirations of the communities they serve.
Access to the Internet has become a central part of American society, helping all of us in many areas of our daily lives. Over the past twenty years, libraries and community technology centers have taken on the role of public access centers for those who are unable to reach the Internet at home or work, for reasons ranging from lack of financial resources to personal preference. The U.S. Impact Study is examining the users and use of these public services to better understand the impact of free access to computers and the Internet on the individuals, families and communities served by these public and private resources.