Changing stakeholder expectations for library value #InternetLibrarian

Kim Silk, Hamilton (Ont.) Public Library
Bill Irwin, Huron University

Who does evaluation? Do you find it good or bad? One audience member was able to show that lots of different work areas used her library.

Measure to inform the strategic plan, to see changes over time, to inform our practice, to demonstrate value both quantitative (financial) and qualitative (social, educational, cultural).

Don’t confuse means and ends.

Librarians too often stop with outputs (things you can count). Also, think about outcome (qualitative results).

Public libraries often count circulation, membership, program attendance. But also consider:

Economic impact:
* value per open hour
* value per cardholder
* value per citizen

Social impact:
* student experience
* job skills
* early childhood literacy
* civic engagement
* digital learning
* economic development
* lifelong learning
* summer reading

Promotion can improve usage of parts of the collection that haven’t gotten as much use as they could.

Traditional metrics lack context. Metrics do not reflect evolution of library success. Circulation is just a means to an end.

Whatever kind of community you serve, you know which ones could use more attention. In Canadian public libraries, that’s the indigenous population, immigrants, seniors.

Engage stakeholders at every level: staff, administrators, community. Engage them about metrics.

For example, ask the children’s librarian not just to count books read in the summer reading program, but to ask the kids what they learned, what they got excited about. Maybe pre- and post-literacy evaluations at beginning and end of summer.

Question: we do surveys, but response rate is so low.

Suggestion from a corporate librarian: when you do a literature search, ask if it helped them solve their goal.

Business students learning how to use the library in their third and fourth years of school. That’s a measure. Also improved quality of work.

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