Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Our Annual Report!

I've been getting a fair amount of (friendly) grief this week as I've been toiling away on my library's annual report.  Why?  Well... because annual reports are not required in my district.  Apparently, to some people (and you know who you are!) crunching numbers, making graphs and reflecting on school years past (when you don't actually have to) is tantamount to madness. But the truth is, I love this stuff. Digging through data, discovering correlations and proving (or disproving) that what you believe, in your heart, to be true about your work is, well... fun!

Of course, my joy and naivety related to this process may be (at least partially) attributed to the fact that I've never done one before.  Yes.  This is my first annual report.  And since there was no one around to tell me how I should do it or what to include, I got to make up the rules as I went along, which was great, because it made me REALLY think about who my audience was going to be.  In the end, I realized that the group I most wanted to target with this information was administrators - both at my school and at central office, which reminded me of one of the first budget related conversations I ever had with my current principal (who is super supportive, by the way).  I remember going into her office armed with file folders full of evidence and research, ready to blow her high heels off with data proving that whatever I wanted deserved her time, attention and (most importantly) money.  After about 2 sentences she stopped me and asked "what's the bottom line?"  She wanted, what I might now refer to as, a tweetable budget request:  Short, sweet and to the point.

So... I wrote my annual report with this personality type in mind, making certain that:
  1. All data is organized into bite sized chunks.
  2. It's visually interesting and fun.
  3. The "bottom line" is easy to recognize
  4. What few narratives there are, are short, sweet and to the point.
  5. I tried to focus on data they would actually care about.  (For example, instead of bemoaning the state of my 400s or shouting about the number of times A Diary of a Wimpy Kid was checked out, I focused on student impact, the relationship between library services and academic success and how our library meets the identified needs of students at our school). 
And finally, I took a page from the book of Gwyneth and decided to, if nothing else, lend a comic nudge/wink to my report.  I didn't use Comic Life (as Gwyneth swears by) and I'm nowhere near as talented as she is, but I did try to capture the spirit of her SPECTACULAR comic tutorials, in the hopes of making this report fun and easy to digest.

And who knows, Batman!  Somebody might actually read it! :)

As always, everything I do, this is licensed under Creative Commons, so please feel free to use, share, mash-up and/or make this better.  Also, it's worth noting that lots of other FANTASTIC annual reports can be found here.  Have fun!


  1. This is purely awesome and inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Oh My WORD! I absolutely LOVE love love this! And I'm TOTALLY stealing this AWEsome infographic idea! How did you do it? MS Word, PPT? What!?!?? I gots to know! Thank you for being such an amazing inspiration to me! Muwa!
    ~Gwyneth Jones
    The Daring Librarian

  3. This looks amazing! Totally not at all what I thought of when I imagined an annual report :-)
    And ditto to Gwyneth's question - how did you do it??

    Awesome work and thanks for sharing!!


  4. I don't know how you could have done anything any better with your inaugural annual report. It is FABULOUS! Great job . . . and you know that I want to share this! You continue to inspire, amaze, and encourage me -- rock on library girl!

  5. Oi! You girls are making me blush! Your kind words mean so, so much to me. *hugs* Gwyneth, can I be your comic protege?

    As for the how-do on the how-to, it's 100% MS word - though I used Big Huge Labs to create the "motivational poster" and the "photo booth" frames for a couple of images. Listen, if *I* can do it, anybody can!

    PS: Kelly, as always, what's mine is yours, Obi Wan!

  6. As a first year librarian who was mulling an annual report, I was completely blown away with your presentation. It hit all the right notes. I'm amazed at the data you were able to collect! I provided quarterly goals updates to my principal this year, hopefully next year I can roll those into an annual report. Getting access to testing data is a bit of an issue here so I'm impressed at what you were able to collect. I noticed that you emailed the NCSLMA group, would you share any responses that you get?

    Bravo again! ~Alison LeSueur, Holt ES, Durham

  7. Hi Alison! I explained to my principal what I was doing and she provided all the data I needed. I think most administrators want to help their people evaluate program effectiveness. As for NCSLMA, I haven't gotten any responses yet, but hopefully I will today. Good luck!

  8. I'll echo the sentiments expressed by the rest - this is a totally awesome annual report. Just what I was looking for to revamp mine, so I hope you don't mind my borrowing your template and tweaking it a bit to meet my needs. While I will still do a more in-depth (ie: wordy) repot for my principal, I was looking for something condensed to share with the school/community at large. This is perfect for that! Thanks for sharing.

    Heather Loy, LMS, Wagener, SC

  9. GREAT JOB, LIBRARY GIRL! As a former librarian and a library media specialist, I THOUGHT THIS WAS REALLY A FANTASTIC AND CREATIVE way to submit and share data!LOVED IT!

  10. What do you know...someone reads and uses a great report as a guide to make their own better. Thanks for sharing.