Chapter 8

CAMEO Handbook

Chapter 8 Organizing, Analyzing, and Communicating the Results


"When the data gathered are organized to emphasize the relationship of one to another, the process of interpretation is facilitated." (Warncke 1975, 70)

Introduction

Facing a mountain of data and information and trying to organize it in some useful fashion can feel overwhelming. Here are some suggested approaches and helpful hints to assist library planners in preparing the written report on Looking-Around.

Levels of Effort

The level of effort for this step in Looking-Around will reflect the overall level of effort devoted to Looking-Around. The time and resources required to prepare the report will increase as the complexity and variety of data collected increase.

Organizing the information

Unless the library has hired outside consulting help with Looking-Around, the library staff is usually responsible for collecting and organizing the data as well as preparing the written report for the Planning Committee to use for decision-making. Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries (McClure et al. 1987, 23) suggests several possible ways to assemble information to help with its interpretation and use.

Whatever approach, the writer needs to keep in mind that the purpose is to organize the information for decision-making. The writer should take time to review the full range of information and to present that information in a logical and orderly fashion.

Writing the report

Preparation

For library planners carrying out Looking-Around at a moderate or extensive level of effort, Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries (McClure et al. 1987, 24) contains these general guidelines for preparing the report:

Have someone, knowledgeable about the library but not involved in Looking-Around, review the report to make certain it is readable and understandable.

Graphics

Childers and Van House (1993, 57 exact quote) offer some excellent tips on good graphics:

Tools

Ruth Warncke (Warncke 70) describes the various tools to use in presenting the information:

  • Lists and tables: To report one category of specific information, use a list. For example, if you are presenting the frequency with which users use various types of library resources, just list the type of material and the data. To present data that requires comparison, use a table that shows a matrix of categories. Such a table might be used to present the type of material used by patrons at each library outlet and throughout the system.

  • Graphs and Charts: Use graphic presentations to convey complex information in a clear, simple way.

  • Maps: Presenting information using geographic outlines helps dramatize the elements of the community and their relationship to one another. A map might be used to demonstrate where library users live in relationship to the population density throughout the service area to show the need for a new library branch or for new services to reach unserved areas.

  • Narratives: Brief, objective narrative reports can be helpful in presenting information for interpretation. They can include summaries of findings from interviews or group meetings, descriptions of library Walkaround results, or the library's history.

    General Childers and Van House (56-58) offer some useful suggestions to keep in mind:

    Communicating the results

    Consider carefully whether there is an audience for the report beyond members of the Planning Committee, library staff, and trustees. Production of the report on Looking- Around can be a good way to introduce the entire community to the planning process. There is no need to distribute hundreds of copies of a multi-page report, but executive summary, selected tables and graphs can be used:

    The results of Looking-Around can be an invaluable public relations tool and will help create the community interest and investment in the planning process and ultimately a commitment of resources to the plan that evolves.

    A suggested outline for a report prepared at an extensive level of effort:

    Executive Summary

    Introduction

    Approach

    Findings

    Appendices