What Have You Learned?
by Dick Kaser
Numbers never tell the whole story. But, as Terence Huwe observes in his column this issue, they can tell quite a good tale about the recent successes of libraries in responding to community needs during the pandemic.
No story in this issue drives this point home better than the narrative from librarians in West Texas who collaborated in turning their makerspaces into frontline manufacturing and assembly plants in order to meet the local PPE needs of medical workers. They also developed an app to bring real-time COVID-19 data to first responders and local residents.
Librarians have a well-deserved reputation for knowing how to assess user needs and respond with relevant services. In making decisions, they tend to gather the facts before zeroing in on a solution. What’s more, they often test their hypotheses by monitoring results and measuring outcomes.
It did not take much arm-twisting for me to entice Michael Blackwell (St. Mary’s College) and his collaborators to undertake a study of digital audiobook pricing and licensing options. Given the recent rise in popularity of this format in public libraries, the team used combined circulation data from their four library systems to make observations and offer tips for building your own digital audio collection in not only a cost-conscious way, but with social consciousness.
Not all outcomes end up as expected, as librarians from Delaware County Community College in Pennsylvania learned when they monitored student usage of ebook collections during the on-again, off-again enforced distance learning mandates in 2020. The electronic usage, they report in their study, tended to relate more to the assignments that students were given than to some natural urge on students’ part to switch to digital resources once library materials were no longer available for lending.
Thanks to all of the authors in this issue for sharing what they’ve learned. And that goes especially for open source advocate Rogan Hamby who, in his EDTECH article, shares his script for moving patron records seamlessly from one system to another.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor