Meet the Public Library Data Alliance: Todd Deck

Meet the Public Library Data Alliance: Todd Deck

Todd Deck is Tehama County, California’s County Librarian. He holds a master’s degree in -Library Science and Information from Emporia State University in Portland, Ore. and a bachelor’s degree from California State University. Before becoming a librarian, Deck worked in customer service and marketing.

My first foray into data equaling people was working the Star Wars booth at Comic-Con. We had forecasted a certain number of R2-D2 action figures, but it wasn’t enough and we had a lot of people there who were very angry at us. It made me realize the importance of having correct numbers in relation to supply and demand, and I try to think about that in the work I do now. We had to change our approach, and that is also important for a library’s outreach and community engagement. We want people to have a positive experience with us, and then go on to have a positive experience in their lives.

As a library director in a rural setting, I have an interesting perspective. My library has a very small budget compared to other California libraries but we’re providing an amazing experience for our patrons and I’m very proud of that.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our libraries closed on March 17, but we had a digital strategy in place within 24 hours. We re-opened for curbside service in late May and then re-opened our buildings in a limited capacity a few weeks ago. We’re operating at fifty-percent capacity, and we have the space and the staff support to do that. We have incredible people working here who don’t have an issue being both a librarian and the sanitation police.

Finding the tools to cultivate data to communicate a library’s impact is vital for the future of the rural library community, but it can be a real challenge. I’ve been thinking a lot about data and the tools my library uses to communicate the services we offer. I feel like there are some gaps in how we are painting the picture of what we do, and therefore how I communicate that information at a state level. I see the Public Library Data Alliance (PLDA) as an opportunity to help figure this out.

I’d love to see an overarching philosophy on data that I can utilize to make decisions within my library. A lot of time is spent pulling data and presenting it to the board of state libraries but I don’t necessarily use it for programming choices or budgetary concerns. I see the PLDA as an opportunity to bring data full circle as we move forward.