In Needs Assessment, we refer to the needs of our member library media specialists to best serve the students and teachers in their schools.
RILINK’s 205 member libraries are in 33 districts statewide and include public and private schools at all K-12 grade levels and an independently-run Family Literacy Center. These 33 districts represent single-municipality, regional, and state-operated configurations.
According to the 2020 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook, nearly 144,000 students attended R.I. public schools and of these, 29% (41,525) attended schools in “communities with the highest child poverty rates (1)” Per the same document, “55% of Rhode Island public school students were White, 27% were Hispanic, 9% were Black, 3% were Asian/Pacific Islander, 5% were Multi-Racial, and 1% were Native American.”
The Factbook also tells us that a significant number of students (48%) were low-income (eligible for free or reduced lunch), 15% received special education services, and 10% were Multilingual Learners/English Learners.
The school library media specialists who serve these students must balance the needs of the entire school community—students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders—while managing library spaces, collections, budgets, and resources; collaborating in the classroom; providing direct information literacy and research instruction; connecting students with topically- and grade-appropriate books for pleasure reading; and performing a wide variety of related tasks. RILINK Staff continuously monitors the effectiveness of its member benefits and services to support school library media specialists in each of these endeavors.
In order to ascertain how RILINK as an organization can evolve to best meet the needs of its current members and anticipate the needs of its future members, we surveyed current members as outlined below.
Beginning with our August 2019 Newsletter, we asked our members to complete a RILINK Planning Survey to help us with the strategic planning process with the following rationales in mind:
Member feedback helps us improve how we help our members provide better resources and services to students and teachers
Perceptions of service are not always the same as reality of service
We are always open to feedback
We created the survey using the LibWizard tool in our Springshare LibApps account. Members were also notified via our listserv, newsletter, and website.
The survey was divided into 3 sections asking a total of 56 questions:
Section 1: General questions about the organization's essential functions
Section 2: Questions about the organization's methods of communication: website, newsletter, and listserv
Section 3: Questions about RILINK membership benefits:
ebooks and audiobooks (BookLynx)
The survey had a November 8, 2019 deadline. We received 91 responses (an approximate 62% response rate).
A more detailed examination of survey questions and answers is available in Appendix A.
To provide breadth and depth to our strategic planning process, we formed a 13-member Advisory Committee comprised of the following:
RILINK members from both public and private schools and representing all grade levels
representatives from RIDE and the Rhode Island Office of Innovation
a member of the Library Board of Rhode Island
a professor and program director from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS)
an educational consultant
the director of an educational collaborative
a charter school administrator
a public librarian
Through one face-to-face meeting and one virtual meeting, in ongoing email communications, and in a closed discussion forum on a dedicated website, we communicated with Advisory Committee members over the course of nine months to get feedback and brainstorm resources and strategies for all aspects of this process.
Our goal is to establish a permanent Advisory Board to help RILINK Staff navigate the growth of the organization in the future.
Further details about Advisory Committee members can be found in Appendix B.