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Librarians' Toolkit

Community Assessment FAQs

Q: Some of the information in the Community Analysis and Needs Assessment is difficult to find and the form takes a long time to complete. Why does the State Library require us to submit it?

A: The purpose of the Community Analysis and Needs Assessment, along with the other 2 required plans and policies, is actually to benefit libraries. Completing the the analysis will inform librarians about their communities and how they are changing; this information, in turn, can tell librarians and library staff who their patrons are, what other community organizations may be providing similar services, and finally how they can better serve their patrons. The process also provides librarians with the finished document, which is very useful when seeking funding from local or tribal governments, grant agencies, local businesses, and other sources.


Q: The only information I can find for some of the questions comes from the last census, which was 8 years ago. Is that too old or can I use it?

A: It is acceptable to use the last U.S. census data, even if it’s 9 years old. It can be difficult to find more current information, especially for small communities.


Q: I had to create a document with similar information for a grant application/for the local government within the last 6 months, but it was a narrative (or in some other format). Does the assessment have to be in the format in the template or can I use what I’ve already created?

A: The assessment does not need to follow the template format; some libraries submit the information in a narrative or a different type of form which they had to provide for some other purpose. You may use whichever format is most useful for you.


Q: I’ve looked and looked for the answers to some of these questions but I just can’t find the required information. Will the library be penalized for leaving a few questions blank?

A: No, it’s not essential that every question is answered. It’s really difficult to find some of the information in the assessment form for small communities. As the goal of the assessment is to give you a strong sense of your community and how it’s changing, completing the majority of the form is fine. You can also estimate a figure if you have some information but not an exact number.


Q: The assessment form asks for the projected population of the community in 5 years. How can I get this information?

A: This information is difficult to find for small communities. Your tribal census representative may be able to help with population projections. You can also look at the past several census records to see if there’s a trend in the population and combine that with your knowledge of the community to come up with an estimate. Again, this is to assist you in planning your library’s services, so an official number is not required.
 

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