Data is only worth collecting if you use it effectively! You have a great deal of information about your special library’s resources, both print and electronic, as well as about your users and your staff. You’re also in the best position to inform others about the unique services your special library provides individuals and departments who need quick and easy access to important information. How do you know what data will help your frontline advocacy team (your “A Team”) with your frontline advocacy message? Use this checklist as a guide.
The right data:
- Is easy to understand. Take the relevant data that you and collect and boil it down to an easy-to-understand format. Make it clear almost at a glance. How many employees used your special library or information center this year? How does it compare to last year? What did they use it for? What new resources or services have you added? How effectively do you serve users? Consider asking users to complete a short satisfaction survey if you need to gather additional data.
- Does not overwhelm the reader or listener. Sometimes less is more. Making two or three points effectively is far better than trying to make six and watching the reader or listener lose interest.
- Clarifies the point you are making or the problem you are addressing. If you want to make the point that your information professionals are able to fulfill most individuals’ research requests within 24 hours, talk about:
- The wide range of methods by which individual requests for research or information reach your staff
- The complexity of many of those requests
- The resources that you can access in-house or through other sources
- The average turn-around time for research requests
- How this turn-around time compares to providing this service in the past, and to obtaining the information at the public or university library
- Is relevant to the reader or listener. Some knowledge of your “audience” and their interests, whether they are users of your special library, your close colleagues, other organization staff, friends, relatives or acquaintances, should guide the content of what you tell them.
- Shows the positive impact the special library has on your organization and on individuals’ job performance. If your special library or information center has been recognized for its services, or if you can tell a real story about the difference your resources made for an individual staff member or for the success of a product line, do it! Everything your information professionals excel in should be shared with everyone who will listen.
- Is part of a bigger picture. Can you talk about how your special library or information center contributes to your organization’s bottom line through your provision of trend analyses, product development research, or providing data for marketing and public relations? Can you cite some specific examples?