Community Analysis Methods and Evaluative Options: The CAMEO Handbook
This publication was supported in part by Library Services and Construction Act (P. L. 101-254\) funds as administered by the Library of Virginia 1402 SB
Community analysis is the foundation of responsible library decisions -- both short and long term. To build facilities, collections, services, and programs which are responsive to the needs and expectations of the community, librarians must understand not only the community but also their own libraries. This handbook guides those involved with public libraries in selecting and using basic tools to look at libraries and their communities and to use the results for enriched planning.
The Community Analysis Methods and Evaluative Options (CAMEO) Handbook, a step-by-step guide for public library planners, is based on work done in the late 1980s in planning, role setting, and output measures and used by the Appomattox Regional Library System (ARLS) in 1993.
Quite large and diverse, ARLS is a multi-jurisdictional library system serving the independent city of Hopewell and the counties of Prince George and Dinwiddie. The service area comprises a growing urban area included in the Richmond/Petersburg Metropolitan Statistical Area and areas large, isolated, and rural.
The library system is a separate legal entity and therefore cannot rely on the governmental infrastructure of the counties and city served to support library administration or long range planning efforts. As one might imagine, resources for long range planning are limited. This planning is the responsibility of the governing board working with library director and his/her staff. In this case, ARLS received a Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) grant to conduct a community analysis of its service area.
MGT of America, Inc., a management consulting and research firm, and The Consulting Librarians Group, a library consulting consortium, worked as partners on the project. MGT carried out data collection and information-gathering, including an intercept survey of a random sample of ARLS users, a telephone survey of a random sample of area residents comprising library users and non users, and interviews with local government officials, other stakeholders, and administrators of ARLS. The Consulting Librarians Group conducted a series of focus group interviews with groups of stakeholders identified by ARLS and worked with the Library Board, administration, and staff to begin using information from the community analysis to support the planning and role setting process. The community analysis procedures and tools that were identified and used in this project have been brought together in this handbook as a model for use by other public libraries in Virginia.
The Library of Virginia holds regulatory responsibility for the administration of state aid to public libraries in the Commonwealth. To receive a grant-in-aid, a library must, annually, submit to the State Library Board a five-year plan which has been approved by its governing body. The ARLS project and its resulting manual, The CAMEO Handbook, enhance Planning for Library Excellence, Virginia's current planning guide for libraries. ARLS' experience with community analysis and this documentation resulting from it will improve the planning process for facilities, collections, services, and programs.