I returned from Tonga last Friday but have only just completed typing up my notes. Other than having my luggage go astray when I arrived, the trip was pretty good.
Information from the review, albeit too short for any detailed analysis and verification, was still informative. Funnily enough, there were similarities in some of the issues that came out of the Kiribati review I did last year with an overseas consultant.
Firstly, the data gathering task was difficult because of the nature of island geography and transport logistics. There were problems in timeliness and data quality, albeit there was effort undertaken by a unit in the Schools Division to go out to schools and check some of the data for the EMIS while they were there.
There were issues involved with business process management along the information chain. This involved both the data collection from the schools, and the way in which the data was being used for the end product. It wasn’t always clear for the schools as to what surveys were coming and for what the information was being used for. And there was some concern over data quality although the review didn’t have time to evaluate the data.
In Tonga, the education statistics from the EMIS are used for the annual report of the Ministry of Education. However, the report needs to be tabled in Parliament before the statistics are released publicly. The 2009 and 2010 reports haven’t been tabled yet. In Kiribati, an annual statistical digest is published each year with a comprehensive set of data.
In both Tonga and Kiribati, on-demand requests for information from EMIS were common.
There is more analysis to be done on the information gleaned from the rapid review of the Tonga EMIS. And there are upcoming trips to PNG and Vanuatu to do similar rapid reviews.
All in all, there are some interesting projects I will be involved in over the coming weeks. I am looking forward to it.
I am at the halfway point of the Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference has been pretty good so far, with a nice mix of thinking pieces and practical case studies. And Austin is a great place to visit for live music!
Some key highlights so far:
Amy Sample Ward yesterday emphasised the library should be thinking of working with the community (or your user group), not for your community (or user group).
A couple of presentations yesterday looked at presenting your library’s story ( your story to management or other stakeholders) in a more effective light by using good data and effective data presentation for your data to tell your “data story”. My only criticism was the lack of focus on the stories (narrative) from the library user group or your clients. Naturally, I made a comment and let the audience know about what SenseMaker might offer.
Library promotion was another topic of interest from Day 1. Nothing revolutionary to me in that presentation, although it did focus my attention on executing marketing strategies back at work when I can find the time to escape the daily minutiae of my administrative library work.
Yesterday afternoon we heard a passionate “rally to the library cause” from Michael Porter of Library Renewal who advocated public and academic libraries needed to organise more effectively to combat a growing threat to library budgets and library work. I do wonder how much impact ”the intrinsic value of the library” has on governments looking at slashing budgets; and that’s exactly what US states are trying to do across the country at the moment. A more focused argument needs to be made on how libraries service the needs of community and what the impact that has on people and their ability to get things done both socially and economically. And enlisting the support of people (voters) is something libraries also need – so, libraries need a more politically focused approach.
Today we had some presentations of a more practical nature. We had a great presentation on analysing ejournal collections from database vendors. Nice MS Access database used as an effective tool to compare database collections.
Well, gotta get back to it. The afternoon session is about to start shortly.