It’s annual report season, and I’m eyeball deep in data analysis. The trouble I run into is stopping myself from going seriously granular in my analysis. I love this stuff. And, sure, it’s fascinating to me to map changes in data over the years, but I have to stop myself to ask which trends will actually tell me something actionable. Knowing things is not the same as knowing things that can help me make our services better.
I think that’s the challenge of effective assessment, right there. Watching the ratios of circ rates between different material types shift from year to year is fascinating, but which data points will tell me how we need to improve? Those are the ones that deserve more than a moment of my attention.
I’m reminded of Bellwether, a smart and funny novel by Connie Willis. There’s a scene in which two scientists are trying to tie a ribbon to the bellwether — the leader of the flock — in a pen full of sheep, to no avail. First they can’t figure out which one it is, and then they can’t catch it. That’s how I feel today.
Here, sheepie sheepie sheepie…