Library Edge Benchmarks

Edge is a set of national benchmarks developed by a coalition of leading library and local government organizations that have created the first-ever set of national benchmarks, which are designed to inspire continuous improvement and reinvestment in public access technology services in libraries. This groundbreaking initiative will provide local library, government and community leaders with a much needed tool for ensuring opportunity for all.

The benchmarks serve as reference points against which best practices may be compared and will help libraries determine:

  • The operational capacity libraries should maintain to provide high-quality computer and internet services
  • The external communications and partnerships that extend the value of technology
  • The programs and services that build people's digital literacy skills and their ability to use technology for activities such as job-seeking, e-government transactions, health, wellness and education.

In aggregate, the Edge benchmarks will enable libraries to score themselves against best practices that define access and quality. The benchmarks will be supported by training and a toolkit of customizable materials that will help library staff demonstrate the quality of their technology services to the communities they serve and convince decision makers to continually re-invest in public technology access in libraries.

In April, 2012 the University of Washington conducted a beta test of these benchmarks with a representative sample of public libraries across the country. Beta test libraries were asked to complete an assessment workbook and to provide written feedback on the benchmarks, indicators, and assessment process; a subsample of participating libraries were also interviewed by telephone. The purpose of the beta test was to:

  • determine whether certain library characteristics, such as population size, staffing levels, or per capita funding, drive indicator performance and patron outcomes;
  • to learn how much time and effort is required to participate in the benchmarking effort;
  • and to gather other feedback about the initiative that will drive subsequent revisions to the framework, assessment protocols, and advocacy tools.

The Edge initiative will update the benchmarks regularly, in partnership with the library and local government fields, to ensure they are current, relevant and valuable.

To learn more, please visit http://www.libraryedge.org/