Friday, July 3, 2009

250 Words: Benchmarks

A benchmark is a standard of measurement, like a ruler, so work done conforms to the determined norm. A benchmark is an official guide for measuring anything.

Across the street from the Central Library is a Federal Building, the Post Office, constructed in 1932. 801 I Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are two USGS benchmarks, showing exact elevation, directly outside the building. I posted pictures of one on 6-26-09. Then I discovered there is another at the opposite end of the building. These benchmarks are located on the Southwest and Southeast corners, facing the numbered streets, 8th and 9th, at the top of the granite stairs just to the side of the actual entrance to the building.

Go to the entrance facing 9th street and walk up the stairs. Look to the right of the entrance and you will see the brass benchmark.

Here is an image of that benchmark.

Notice the elevation and then go to the previous post and see what the elevation is on the Southwest corner facing 8th street.

My questions are: what are the benchmarks used to determine the success of a library? I know we use statistics, like circulation or patronage, to measure the level of use. These are tangible benchmarks. What are the intangible benchmarks? Is it possible to measure the intangible? Yes, we can use patron satisfaction surveys. But, what about using staff satisfaction surveys to measure the quality of the collection?

Then listening.

Gerald F. Ward

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