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Learning Community Library Needs: Determination & Goals

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a librarian at a school, you have a responsibility to serve and meet the needs of your community. This lesson discusses what it means to determine community library needs, and set responsible goals in alignment with these needs.

What Are Community Needs?

Shannon has been working as the school librarian at Furman Middle School for only a few months, and she is determined to succeed at her new job.

One thing that Shannon knows, is that one of her responsibilities is determining the needs of her school community, as she sets goals and goes about her work in the library.

Shannon knows that a good librarian is responsive, meaning that the librarian creates a collection, policies, curriculum, and instruction in careful alignment with the needs of various community members.

At Furman, community members include students, teachers, and even family who come to use the library.

Information Needs

Shannon starts by thinking about the information needs of her community. This means that she is wondering what topics members of the school community are most interested in learning about, what kinds of media they learn from best, and what levels of accessibility they require for their needs.

Assessing Needs

Shannon starts by assessing or evaluating, and learning about, the community's information needs. She uses the following strategies:

  • Private conversations with teachers about the curricular topics they teach
  • Conversations with teachers about the research skills they would like to see their students acquiring in the library
  • Student surveys of interest to discover topics, and research forms
  • Meetings with parent representatives to find out what kinds of media families are interested in, and what topics they would like to learn about by using the library.

Shannon discovers, for instance, that she needs to improve her collection on ancient civilizations, and she also learns that teachers feel their students need more help evaluating the validity of online resources.

Setting Goals

Next, Shannon sets goals relevant to the information needs she has discovered. The goals she sets are short-term, as well as long-term. Each goal is clear, specific, and achievable.

As a short-term goal, Shannon says that she hopes that by the end of November, all of her students will know how to independently use the digital library catalogue when conducting research.

A longer-term goal is to acquire fifty new books, and magazines, that supply accurate and diverse information about life in ancient societies.

Implementation

Finally, Shannon starts implementing the goals she has set, related to information needs. This means allocating funding, meeting with teachers and administrators, and planning units and lessons, that will help her do what she has set out to do.

Recreation Needs

Shannon knows that information needs are not the only purpose of a school library. She is also really interested in her community's recreation needs, or needs for the library to provide reading material that is fun and enjoyable.

Assessing Needs

As with information needs, Shannon starts with an assessment. In this case, she is interested in finding out:

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