Needs Assessment

City Street

Definition & Purpose:

A needs assessment process reveals the influences acting on the library. Information collected shapes the services and programs that best fit the library’s strengths and budget. Ultimately, it informs a vision for future development.

Results of a needs assessment can be used in a variety of situations:

  • Commencing a strategic planning process
  • Determining change in a user community
  • Making changes in a library’s collection, services, etc.
  • Determining adequacy of facilities, technology, etc.
  • Establishing satisfactory staffing patterns and library hours

Essential Data:

  • Local information and demographics cited from Census/ vital statistic records, library statistics, community development plans, and/or other existing data sources
  • Internal (library) & external (community) scanning results
  • Community input
  • Analysis of data (ex: identification of common threads or issues)
  • Library vision statement linking data to the library’s direction

Data Collection Options:

Careful consideration should be given to which data collection techniques are employed. Using only one technique may provide limited information while using too many can be expensive and time consuming. The online resources below provide several articles with pros and cons of the various techniques.

  • Surveys: mail, telephone, e-mail
  • SWOT exercise
  • Key informants
  • Community forum/Focus group
  • Census and/or public records
  • Citizen advisory groups
  • Town meeting

On-line Resources & Examples:

Talk to your field consultant for further resources.

Library Research Service

Resources for Community Analysis – Colorado and National

Community Survey Form

Western Rural Development Center

Coping With Growth Series – Community Needs Assessment Techniques