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:
All data is organized into bite sized chunks.
It's visually interesting and fun.
The "bottom line" is easy to recognize
What few narratives there are, are short, sweet and to the point.
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!