Create Great Library Usage Reports from Google Calendar

9:42 AM 2 Comments A+ a-

Every librarian should love data.  LOVE it.  Data is our life's blood because it allows us to keep track of what direction (intentional or unintentional) our program takes.  Not only is data beneficial for us, but is the unfortunate case that many an administrator responds better to seeing actual numbers associated with key talking points as we go over programmatic highlights.

In my library, a big piece of our data tracking is our shared Google calendar which records all our classroom usage (we have three classrooms in our space and we also sometimes schedule classes on the library floor).  We moved away from our shared Outlook calendar because we kept getting frustrated that if our computer crashed, the formatting and some of the data would be lost, which made us crazy.  As early Google adopters, Google calendar (which my fellow Upper School librarian and I were using personally) seemed like an obvious substitute.

We can see each other's personal calendar (to remember doctor's appointments, etc.) and decided that we would set up each classroom with its own calendar, largely because we can control the color coding and see usage at a glance when teachers want to set up an appointment to come to the library.

But there has always been one annoying part when it comes time to collate the data.  We have had to input the data from each class (teacher, class name, number of students, collaboration level, skills taught, laptop usage) into a Filemaker database in order to generate usage reports.  Gah!  So tedious to do, especially since we do it at the end of each semester, when we are usually exhausted.

We started off our day this morning kvetching about needing to crunch the data and wondering if there was an easy way to get the reports in Google Docs rather than using the class by class input technique.  Now, I'm sure there are plenty of librarians reading this going "duh," but in my end of trimester haze, I had the brainwave of doing a search on extracting data from Google calendar and discovered (for FREE!!!)  

It couldn't be simpler to use.  You just have your calendar/Google docs open and give GTimeReport permission to access your Google account.  You get this snazzy window (you can see all my various calendars in each different colors) and you can simply choose the time/date parameters for your report.  Here's what you get:

Give it a few seconds and POP!  It opens up Google Docs and we get the above beautiful report.  You can see how we can sort by date, time, duration, the bell, and you can even see our occasional listing of skills taught. Now that I realize how it formats the report, I think we will use the "where" field (which we can ignore since our "where" is taken care of by the calendar name) for indicating the number of students or our collaboration levels (L1 = students are in library without teacher and no joint instruction, L2 = teacher is with student but no collaborative instruction is taking place, and L3 = teacher and librarian instruct students together and assess lesson's efficacy throughout project).

Anything that gives quick and easy (and FREE!!!) data is a boon to any librarian's heart and if you are already using Google calendar, then this might be a helpful addition to your repertoire.  Next up for us - enabling the appointment feature so teachers can book themselves. :-)