November 20, 2018

Running Reports with Annual Report Data

     Fun Literary Fact for the Day: Pablo Neruda hated butterflies.  More on that later.  First off, I wanted to thank the Merri-Hill Rock Coop for inviting me to come talk about statistics last week.  It was a very informative discussion that certainly helped me get a better understanding of how all of you use the annual report, as well as think of ways to improve it going forward.  I wanted to follow up on a few items that were discussed at the meeting before I completely forget.

     In giving a quick overview of LibPAS, the software we use to collect the statistics for the annual report, I demonstrated a few features from the ‘Reports’ page.  I’m working on scheduling a webinar on the reporting function of LibPAS but, until then, the vendor gave me permission to send all of you the guide they give to their clients, like me.  Not all of it will apply, since I have a higher level of access that allows me administrative privileges.  The vendor has added some new functions as well, so it’s slightly out of date, which is part of the reason I did not share it previously.  However, I’ve been told that enough remains the same that it still covers the basics and should get everyone started.

       You cannot alter or delete the data in any way in the process of generating reports, so feel free to just play around with it.  Honestly, I’ve found that to be the best way to get a handle on the different kinds of reports, some more useful than others.  The most frustrating part is that the software appears to generate a new report any time you change almost any of the settings.  My recommendation is be to be mindful of how you title your reports and, once you’ve got the settings exactly how you want them, delete the older versions right away.  The information on when the report was generated (including date, hour, and minute) can be found in the ‘Updated’ column of the ‘Report’ tab.  You can use most, if not all, of the data elements in a report, including the key ratios; those are the analytical calculations like circ. per registered user, staff expenditures expressed as a percentage of budget, etc.  The guide shows you how to choose elements, choose locations, filter the data, and all kinds of other fun things.

     The reports also let you access the prior year data going back to 2010, which is all I have been able to load thus far.  A word of caution, though; it’s hard to compare certain data elements over several years because the definition of some elements has changed.  For example, circulation statistics were not broken out by material type until 2012.   IMLS has the definitions for past years on their website.  Going back to FY2006, you can find them in the link to a PDF document titled ‘Data Element Definitions’ for each respective year.  Prior to that, they are simply linked to as ‘Definitions’ or contained in the ‘Documentation’ for that particular year, usually in one of the indexes.  I also do not have the data for database and/or eBook usage going back to 2010 because it is a recent addition to the federal survey.  The data was collected in the past, just not necessarily as part of the annual report and I’m still working on piecing it all together from other sources.
     If you have any questions about the reports, or need your login info for LibPAS, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to help.

Tim Rohe
Reference Librarian/State Data Coordinator
New Hampshire State Library
603-271-2144 (Reference Desk)

P.S.  OK, back to Pablo Neruda.  I’m reading a big honkin’ collection of every single ode by Pablo Neruda, appropriately titled All the Odes, and I have to say that I was a little taken aback by the level of vitriol directed toward one of nature’s more delicate creatures in Ode to the Butterfly.  The poetry gatekeepers had always led me to believe that Neruda was quite fond of butterflies and it is true that they show up quite frequently in his love poems.  The guy’s even got a genus of butterflies named after him!  But now my eyes are open.  Things start out OK in the ode to the humble butterfly, with their wings described as shimmering in the sky like jewels.  However, the ode literally take a dark turn when a cloud of butterflies from Argentina blots out the sun and attacks (attacks!) Neruda and his friend on horseback then goes on to devour whole fields of crops.  In order to stop this invading horde, Neruda threatens to burn down the sky.  It ends with, “I shall bring fire without sadness, I shall bring the spark of punishment to the butterfly mountain.”  It’s kind of like The Hobbit, except Smaug is a cloud of butterflies instead of a fire-breathing dragon.  Look, I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about the history of conflict between Chile and its neighbors, particularly Argentina, to know whether or not Neruda is using this as a thinly veiled metaphor for immigration issues or border tensions between the two countries.  Still, I can’t help but think that the only worse allegorical substitute he could have used is puppies.  Puppy Mountain sounds adorable!

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