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Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards

Report to the Community

Each . . . library provides a board-approved, written annual report to the community on the library's progress in meeting its mission, goals and objectives, as outlined in the library’s long-range plan of service.

Why Present an Annual Report to the Community?

An annual report:

  1. Provides an opportunity to report on progress in meeting the library's mission, goals, and objectives as identified in the board's long-range plan of service.
  2. Gives board and staff an opportunity to review the past year's activities.
  3. Provides an opportunity to inform the community of the library's activities and encourages community engagement.
  4. Offers an opportunity for publicity and promotion of the library with public officials and other stakeholders.
  5. Serves as a resource for advocacy.
  6. Furnishes accountability to community and funding sources.

Who is the Audience?

  • Library users, the general public, and community partners
  • Board members, staff, and Friends of the Library
  • Public and elected officials (local, State and national)
  • Media (print and electronic)
  • Current and potential funding sources (local, regional and national)

What Should the Report Include?

  • Refer to the library’s goals and objectives, long range plan of service of the year in review.
  • Statistics that give a quantitative picture of the library's activities (e.g., number of people who visit the library, circulation, interlibrary loans, programs, in-library use, number of registered borrowers, number of people who receive outreach services).
    • Use Project Outcome or similar data reporting tools to create infographics.
    • Highlight the impact of new programs and/or services.
  • Noteworthy grants, fundraising events, or capital programs that the library undertook.
  • Community partnership activities.
  • Building construction and renovation initiatives.
  • Communicate the return on investment of resources offered to the community
  • Photos to highlight of some of the most successful and impressive programs and activities. (Tip: use pictures to convey success of the programs. Pictures of kids always go well. Always ask for parent or guardian permission prior to using a child’s photo.)
  • Honors that the Director, staff members or trustees may have earned during the year that are relevant to library service. (e.g., ALA, NYLA or Library System awards, community awards, degrees earned, promotions.)
  • Library contact information: Director's name and phone number and board president's name and number.
  • Don’t forget to thank community partners, local government officials, legislators, staff, etc. who have contributed to the success of the library during the previous year.

What Formats and Means of Distribution are Useful?

  • Written Report distributed internally among board and staff. Have multiple copies available for library users. Don't forget the library's support base.
  • Include a link to the report on library website.
  • Short versions of the report could be done in bookmark format or fact sheet and made available to all.
  • News Release to appropriate newsletters, penny-savers, and newspapers (Tip: let the widest distribution help spread the word of the great services and resources. Great public relations opportunity!).
  • Hand deliver or email reports to the movers and shakers of the community encouraging their endorsement and support for the library. (e.g., Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Mayor, School District officials, presidents of clubs, etc.) Support from influential members of the community who have no relationship to the library will carry greater weight with funding sources than support from trustees and Friends of the Library.
  • Written report with photos sent individually to local officials, county, state, and national public officials as well as private contributors and benefactors, current and potential. (Tip: this will strengthen the library's case for funding!)
  • Copies to neighboring libraries, and the Library System to foster cooperation and idea sharing.
  • Oral presentation given to electronic media (radio and TV), and/or at village or town boards. 
  • Social Media tools can be used to share the library’s report, photos and statistics.

Other ideas are also possible. At a minimum, choose one that allows for the widest distribution. It's so important to keep the library's story before the public! Don't be afraid to use it in several ways! Consider producing different versions for different audiences. The current, board-approved annual report is required to be publicly available online (See Standard 11: Provides access to current library information).

Should the Annual Report Be Made Available to the Community?

Yes. The library’s current annual report is required to be publicly available online (See Standard 11: Provides access to current library information) and the library should also have printed copies available for public distribution.  Online and printed annual reports provide the community with transparency and accountability about library operations.

Where Can the Library Go for Help?

Consult the library system for examples of different types of annual reports as well as other assistance. Consider submitting a copy of the annual report to the library system so it can be shared with others.

Helpful Tip Use infographics, as seen below, to keep the community informed of library successes.

Sample infographic featuring bar graphs, icons, and text to communicate library usage data.