Friday, January 25, 2008

Assessment may be the direction in L2

As an educator, I have always known that you in order to know if what you are teaching is working, you have to assess. At the end of the day, it is basically a matter of proving that you do what you say you do. There is another L2 meme/storm out in the librarian blogs, but I think out of the various responses, that Meredith Farkas may be on to something when she suggests that the "Essence of Library 2.o" has to do with assessment. Go over and read her stuff. She says it a heck of a lot better than I ever could, but she basically must have been reading my mind at one point. The point for me is the idea about our need to know what are the needs of our local users. Sure, there are those big libraries out there doing wonderful things, but more often than not, for a number of reasons, those things don't necessarily apply to our local situations. This is basically common sense. For me, it was something I learned first in Houston, and that I am now considering here in Tyler. Now, what we need is formal assessment to provide evidence. If you ask me about my patrons, I can pretty much tell you what they use and won't use. I know this through a blend of observation, intuition, and instinct. Not exactly very scientific, but it works. The next logical step would be to assess more formally. Anything from a well constructed survey to focus groups to interviews with selected individuals.

To me, a lot of L2 is like high level philosophy. You expose yourself to it a bit, but you then return to the real world. It may be because my interests lie in the more practical. What can I do in my library with the resources I have to meet the needs of the patrons that we serve? That's my guiding question. If I can use an answer to solve a problem, provide better service, or simply enhance the library's presence and role on campus, I am pretty much set. It may not be glamorous, but again, it works. Just a thought.

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