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Edge Benchmarks Debut

by Mary Hirsh on January 23, 2013

Today is the day! After almost two years of development, the Edge benchmarks are making their public debut.

So, how did we get here and why do we feel like they are ready now? It was a process. If you had asked any of us what we thought the benchmarks would look like when we started, we probably have described something different than what we are unveiling today. Some things we knew for sure had to be included, like connection speeds, digital literacy training, and help with specific services. The way these benchmarks are presented now are pretty different from the first draft, though.  We collected a lot of feedback from you and your colleagues, made changes, and sent it out again to check our work to figure out how to talk about and measure key services. Through this feedback it became obvious that there were activities we hadn’t thought of that needed to be included.  We added benchmarks and indicators about assessing the value of public access technology in the community and we tied existing benchmarks to meeting community goals. The tool is now so much more than measuring what you do. It gets to the why what you do matters.

A lot of libraries provided feedback at different phases and different levels. Some reviewed the benchmarks and sent in comments. A lucky group took a test assessment to see how their library would fare.  Four libraries participated in an intensive pilot phase of assessing and presenting their results to their stakeholders. All of these libraries helped refine the benchmarks and were invaluable in getting us ready for today. The benchmarks have been poked, prodded, and tested so that all of you can see yourself in reflected in them.

Edge is a lot of moving parts and we are continuing to develop support materials at a furious pace. Today, all you need to do is take a look at the benchmarks. In the coming months, the Edge initiative will launch the online assessment in selected states. We will also provide libraries with a whole suite of tools to help you most effectively turn your library into an Edge library. These include Resource Guides, presentation templates, marketing material, and a PLA-designed training program. Some of these are meant to help you meet specific indicators. Others, like the PLA training, are designed to use Edge as an advocacy and planning tool.  But, these are still on the horizon. Watch this space for more information or sign up to join the Edge community.

This is a major milestone, but just the first of many. We are thrilled to be here and we never would have made it without your help and input. The whole Edge Initiative hopes that you will stick with us as we work towards our next target, and all the ones after that.