December-January 2014, Volume 5, Issue 11
Check Your Calendars!!
School Library Regional Meetings
- December 3, Aberdeen;
- December 10, Sioux Falls
Electronic Resources Challenge
January 13-March 31, online
SDLA Legislative Day
January 23, Pierre
2014 Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
January 24-28, 2014
ALA Youth Media Awards, Philadelphia, PA
January 27, 2014
Digital Learning Day
February 5, 2014
Teen Tech Week
March 9-15, 2014
Featured e-Resources of the Month
ChiltonLibrary, Mango Languages now part of State Library e-resources
What are we reading
Say It With Data: A concise guide to making your case and getting results by Priscille Dando (2014)
Reviewed by Shawn Behrends
Advocacy is a necessary occupation for every library project manager. Used effectively, nothing speaks louder than data. "Say It With Data" introduces ideas for gathering, presenting, and communicating your data to stakeholders and policy makers. Collecting library statistics is nothing new to librarians but, Dando says, now more than ever it's important that libraries demonstrate the value of their services. The key to that, she says, is to humanize the data to "tap into the story that numbers can tell (p. viii)."
"Say It With Data" encourages librarians to spend time in the planning stages of an advocacy campaign. Once you have identified the problem and your objectives for solving it, it is important that you give careful consideration to your audience. Self-interest is a potent communicator. How does your need, for example, appeal to your library or school board's constituents?
Dando covers the two most common methods for gathering data: surveys and focus groups. Surveys are increasingly conducted online by libraries and schools. Web-based surveys have the advantage flexibility, reaching large amounts of people, instant results and easy tabulation. Some advice Dando offers for deploying surveys:
Size matters. Your survey should reflect a random sample and be as large as possible. Did you know there are online sample size calculators?
Strategies that help alleviate frustration for survey respondents: Start with the easiest questions and group by topic; limit the number of open-ended questions; save demographic questions for the end.
Examine the data. Did enough people respond to the survey? Did they answer all of the questions? If you are seeing the same response to a question, be sure it's not because it's a leading question.
Do you want to collect deeper information from fewer people? "Say It With Data" outlines considerations and procedures for conducting focus groups.
So you've collected the data and how do you tell your story? Dando's book offers advice on presenting data through charts, graphs, and infographics. These techniques make your message visual. Graphic messages are easier to digest and they have a tendency to live on when they are shared through social media and forwarded by email. One strategy to emphasize the human side of your data is using photographs alongside it. The author reminds us that we are not sharing data; we are sharing the ideas behind it.
The appendix of "Say It With Data" includes survey, focus group, and presentation checklists; sample surveys from libraries and schools; and an example of survey results analysis. In all, it is a practical primer for any library project manager planning on launching an advocacy campaign. You can borrow this book from the South Dakota State Library's professional collection.