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Getting Started with Community Needs Assessments
An Infopeople Online Learning Course
Instructors: Brenda Hough, Stephanie Gerding, Rita Gavelis
- Would you like to collect information about your community that will better inform the decisions and plans you make in your library?
- Do you want to learn to use a variety of methods to identify the needs, strengths, and aspirations of the people living in your community?
- Are you ready to foster a participatory approach to data gathering and decision making?
In this practical course, learners will be introduced to a systematic process and a variety of methods for assessing needs. Sources for finding existing data about your community will be highlighted. Strategies for conducting surveys, focus groups, and other data gathering methods will be covered. Best practices for sharing and using gathered data will be reviewed, including examples and case studies from the field. Learners in the course will gain the ability to inform their intuition about their communities with evidence.
Course Description: This four-week course will provide learners with practical strategies and tools for conducting needs assessments in their communities. Through assignments and discussions, learners will apply the concepts to their own library and community. The instructors will provide resources, best practices and useful tips and techniques that can be applied immediately.
Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:
- Week 1: Getting Started with Needs Assessments
- Understanding the purpose and process of conducting needs assessments
- Creating a needs assessment team
- Identifying and using existing data
- Week 2: Talking to Your Community
- Interviewing key community leaders
- Holding community forums
- Conducting focus groups
- Week 3: Surveys
- Collecting and using data with surveys
- Best practices
- Week 4: Using and Sharing Data
- Case studies
- Using data for planning
- Creating reports and presentations to share data
Pre-course Assignment: None.
Fee: $200. Note: the 30 free seats for California libraries have been used.
Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 2 1/2 hours per week, for a total of ten course hours. Each week's module contains readings and various options for assignments, discussions, or online meetings. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.
Who Should Take This Course: Individuals working in public libraries in California who want to assess needs in their community
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at: infopeople.org/training/online_learning_details.
Learner Requirements: None.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind more time to work independently to complete the course.
Keywords: needs assessment