The Public Library Association (PLA) a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the public debut of Edge Benchmarks Version 1.0 through PUBLIC LIBRARIES ONLINE, the companion Web site of its bi-monthly print publication Public Libraries, the official magazine of the PLA on Saturday, January 23, 2013. It states, “Edge is a leadership and planning tool. Its aim is to help you…Assess your public computers and how they are being used, …Identify ways to strengthen or enhance your public technology, and…Communicate with key leaders on the value of the library’s computers for supporting a skilled workforce and employment, the educational needs of students, and more.”
There are eleven benchmarks. They fall into three categories: (1) community value, (2) engaging the community and decision-makers, and (3) organizational management.
(1) Libraries provide assistance and training with the goal of increasing the level of digital literacy in the community.
(2) Libraries provide access to relevant digital content and enable community members to create their own digital content.
(3) Libraries provide technology resources to help patrons meet important needs related to personal goals and community priorities.
(4) Libraries make strategic decisions based on community priorities for digital inclusion and innovation.
(5) Libraries build strategic relationships with community partners to maximize public access technology resources and services provided to the community.
(6) Libraries support continuous improvement in public access technology services by sharing expertise & best practices with other digital inclusion organizations.
(7) Libraries integrate public access technology into planning and policies.
(8) Libraries have sufficient staff with technology expertise to help patrons achieve their goals.
(9) Libraries have sufficient devices and bandwidth to accommodate user demand
(10) Libraries manage their technology resources to maximize quality
(11) Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities
The Edge Toolkit includes a resource guide, case studies, reporting tools, and training.
Mary Hirsh wrote, “A lot of libraries provided feedback at different phases and different levels. Some reviewed the benchmarks and sent in comments. A lucky group took a test assessment to see how their library would fare. Four libraries participated in an intensive pilot phase of assessing and presenting their results to their stakeholders. All of these libraries helped refine the benchmarks and were invaluable in getting us ready for today. The benchmarks have been poked, prodded, and tested so that all of you can see yourself in reflected in them.”