Demystifying Data

Using statistics to establish library goals and strategies

March 1, 2023

Librarian's Library by Araceli Mendez Hintermeister

In any profession, making informed decisions often means analyzing available facts and figures. Columnist Araceli Méndez Hintermeister recommends titles that outline best practices for library workers to collect and understand organizational data.

Cover of Planning and Assessment for Libraries by Rachel A. Fleming-May and Regina MaysFundamentals of Planning and Assessment for Libraries
By Rachel A. Fleming-May and Regina Mays
Part of ALA Publishing’s Fundamentals series, this book helps to build understanding of planning and assessment cycles in a way that suits all library workers’ needs, no matter their prior familiarity. Fleming-May and Mays detail different parts of the cycle, including how to design and execute an assessment and how to report and integrate your library’s organizational efforts. The authors provide a series of templates and resources to assist readers as they continue their learning in this topic area or begin implementation. This book can support library workers as they develop a culture of assessment at their workplace and also in personal practice. ALA Neal-Schuman, 2021. 264 p. $64.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-4998-6.

Cover of Data Driven Decisions by Amy StubbingData-Driven Decisions: A Practical Toolkit for Library and Information Professionals
By Amy Stubbing
This book will help you use data to deliver effective decisions that empower your next project or initiative. Stubbing shows how to collect and leverage data from daily business operations, guiding readers through creating a collection and review process for any new analysis. She offers easy-to-implement guidance regarding the different stages of data collection, from identification to action. A series of case studies helps illustrate how libraries have supported their initiatives through data-rich information. Facet Publishing, 2022. 200 p. $71.99. PBK. 978-1-78330-478-3.

Cover of The Data Detective by Tim Harford

The Data Detective: 10 Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics

By Tim Harford
If the idea of analyzing and presenting numbers terrifies you, Harford’s book will simplify and remove any confusion around statistics. His 10 easy rules can help you to demystify data and use it as a tool to understand the world. Stories about how statistics have been used to both mislead and change people’s behavior for the better illustrate how even complex data can become a tool that brings context and perspective.
Riverhead Books, 2021. 336 p. $18. PBK. 978-0-59308-459-5. (Also available as an ebook.)

Cover of Using Digital Analytics for Smart Assessment by Tabatha FarneyUsing Digital Analytics for Smart Assessment
By Tabatha Farney
Whether your library has an abundance of digital offerings or not, patrons are interacting with your digital spaces in more ways than ever. Farney illustrates how to access, use, and analyze data collected from library websites, electronic resources, and digital tools. The first section of the book dives into the basics of digital analytics while helping you understand the organizational impact of digital tools. The second section presents stories on how libraries have used digital analytics to develop services and identify areas of growth. Farney adeptly shows you how to find constructive feedback within your digital analytics. ALA Editions, 2018. 168 p. $65. PBK. 978-0-8389-1598-1. (Also available as an ebook.)

Cover of The Power of Experiments By Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman
The Power of Experiments: Decision Making in a Data-Driven World

By Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman
When it comes to new initiatives, we often find ourselves wondering what could work. Luca and Bazerman argue there’s no need to wonder when you can experiment. Here, they aim to convince readers of the power and importance of experimentation in decision making by sharing stories of how it helped multimillion-dollar companies as well as organizers of public projects find gaps in their initiatives and identify next steps. The Power of Experiments offers useful lessons as well as inspiration to help you navigate the unknown. MIT Press, 2021. 232 p. $19.95. PBK. 978-0-26204-387-8. (Also available as an ebook.)

Cover of Qualitative Data Collection Tools by Felice D. BillupsQualitative Data Collection Tools: Design, Development, and Applications
By Felice D. Billups
Without the right assessment tool, evaluation efforts can fall short or even fail. This informative read helps you design, develop, and employ the qualitative tools needed to launch your next data collection. While qualitative research may be foreign to many readers, Billups provides practical guidance and easily adaptable resources to help identify the right approach for your project—whether it be focus groups, journal logs, reflective questionnaires, or one of the many templates included. SAGE Publishing, 2020. 240 p. $30. PBK. 978-1-54433-482-0. (Also available as an ebook.)


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