North Dakota public libraries are required by law to submit an annual report to their governing body (either the city and/or county commission). This report is different from the PLS (Public Library Survey)/ annual report that is submitted to the State Library.
NDCC 40-38-09. Annual report of board of directors…
According to NDCC 40-38-09, “The board of directors shall make a report on July first of each year to the governing body of the city or board of county commissioners, as the case may be…”
NDCC 40-38-09 also includes a list of what should be included in this report:
- The condition of the library and property.
- The various sums of money received from all sources.
- How much money has been expended and for what purpose.
- The number of books and periodicals on hand.
- The number of books and periodicals added by purchase or gift during the year and the number thereof lost or loaned out.
- The character and kind of books contained in the library.
- Such other statistics, information, and suggestions as the board may deem of general interest or as may be required by the state library.
Creating the Annual Report
NDCC 40-38-09 outlines what needs to be included, but there are numerous ways in which this annual report could be approached.
- Your report should be organized, well-thought-out, visual/ eye-catching/ colorful, and informative.
- You want your report to be designed in such a way that an outsider (a non-library user) should be able to pick up a copy and understand the library’s impact and what the library is doing.
- With a little time and dedication, you should be able to create a report without any issues. Use the tools you have at your disposal and/or the tools you are comfortable with; so take advantage of things like Word, Publisher, Google Docs, etc. to help create your report.
- Keep things simple.
- Colors and fonts matter!
What to Include
Items that you should absolutely include in your report (other than what is listed in Century Code):
- Contact information
- Fun facts about the library
- Information about your services
- Highlights from the past year (feature what is awesome about your library, or awesome things you did/ accomplished)
- Information about future goals, projects, etc.
Numbers, Data, Stats, Oh My!
Definitely include data from your library’s most recent PLS; however, you should NOT just print this off and submit it as your annual report to the governing body. The raw data in the PLS can be bland, and it includes information that the governing body may not understand without proper context.
Numbers can really drive the point home. However, don’t use too many figures. That may overwhelm folks.
Consider doing something fun with the data, like charts, graphs, storymap, or an infographic. Infographics are brief and visual. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create an infographic. You can easily create free infographics online by using websites like Canva (other, similar websites are also available).
Be Strategic with Your Data
- Don’t make people have to work to find your data. For example, when using things like charts or graphs, label them appropriately. Label them with things like “library circulation continues to increase” instead of the uninteresting “this year’s circulation stats.”
- Put numbers in context. For example, try making data somewhat local by comparing your figures to some sort of local data (fair or sporting event attendance; the number of people in your town, county, or the state; etc.)
- Pay attention to some of the principles of graphic design.
- Choose the appropriate visualization:
|If you want to show…||Then you should use…|
|Small numbers, percentages, frequencies||Single numbers, pie charts, percentage donuts|
|Changes over time||Slope graph, line graph, stacked columns|
|Survey responses||Bar or column chart, lollipop graph|
|Comparisons||Bar and line combined, bullet graph|
|Place||Heatmap, tile map|
|Something complicated||Flow chart, process map|
|Source: Bodily, Patrick. “Presenting Data Effectively.” Session presented at the Annual Convention of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, Springfield, IL, 2018.|
This report can also serve another purpose: advocacy. Never miss an opportunity to advocate for your library, and the annual report is a wonderful opportunity to do this. The governing body should be able to review the report and visualize the impact the library is making in the community.
Also, take advantage of the Library Value Calculator. You can use this calculator to help determine your library’s value and return on investment. The calculator is available on ALA’s website (www.ala.org/advocacy/library-value-calculator). An Excel Spreadsheet version of this calculator can be downloaded here (this version is easier to print and the data can be easily updated): library-value-calculator.xlsx
Speaking of library advocacy, additional information and resources on this topic are available here: http://bit.ly/2Yube2I
Examples of Library Annual Reports
- Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library (Bismarck, ND)
- Boulder Public Library, 2016 (Boulder, CO)
- Cecil County Public Library, 2018 (Elkton, MD)
- Lied Public Library, 2018 (Clarinda, IA)
- Sayreville Public Library, 2015 (Parlin, NJ)
Examples of Infographics
- ND Public Libraries by the Numbers (North Dakota State Library)
- Library by the Numbers (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NC)
- Libraries matter: 18 fantastic library infographics and charts (Ebook Friendly)
- View Library Statistics (State Library of Ohio)