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Integrated Data Tracking System
Cleveland Public Library, OH
Timothy Diamond, Special Assistant to the Director, Timothy.Diamond@cpl.org
The Library needs to make data driven decisions every day, particularly in the time of shrinking budgets and shifting funding. The staggering amount of information that Cleveland Public Library collects about various aspects of the organization was spread across multiple spreadsheets and databases. Each person who entered information into these various data collection sources was duplicating work and each person who attempted to pull data together faced a cumbersome, multi-step process.
The Planning and Research Department constructed a centralized SQL database that enables Cleveland Public Library to make decisions about our services based on current data rather than anecdotal information. The database was created so staff that needs to share information with Planning and Research can do it regardless of their location and can eliminate the need for sending program attendance or other measures through email or on paper. Data is entered into the database by staff located anywhere in the system through a page on the intranet. The database also pulls in information about gate counts at all public buildings and computer usage statistics by automatically connecting throughout the day to the information systems maintained by vendors. The SQL database contains information as varied as demographic information about the patrons who use each location to the walk-in gate counts down to the minute for each location. Any staff person can access a number of reports by simply accessing the intranet, available at all staff computers. This allows every staff person who is interested to find such information as circulation data for each location by item type. It also allows staff to compare certain metrics over a period of time or for certain public buildings
During this time of enormous change in our organization, both internally and externally, the Library is able to quickly extract data to present actual information that helps us guide decisions. As the Cleveland Public Library prepares to talk with the public about changes and how best to appropriate our limited resources, the Library has information about every aspect of library service at its fingertips. This innovative way to collect data saves money and provides the ability to make data-driven decisions to provide the best services and collections to our community.