Evaluate programs and services on measurable criteria.

Component 1: Statement of Competency

With the new library 2.0, reference services have changed, how we connect with patrons has changed and with that, the ever growing need of funding resources that will keep libraries in step with this change. When evaluating a service there are three things we need to focus on: quality, need, and impact. This goes across the board whether you are evaluating a new digital resource, a piece for the collection, a potential hire or a library program. It is important that libraries continue to offer great services to the community and to do this the resources we have must be evaluated. How the resource is evaluated can be created by oneself or it can be an adaptation of someone else’s guidelines, such as the ones presented by RUSA, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Evaluation is subjective and when evaluating resources there needs to be set goals, or standards that the library has set in place for the resource to be considered worth the purchase or implementation. If we evaluate resources on criteria that is not quantifiable, we cannot justify to the funding body the need for the resource and the impact that it will have on the library as a whole; “Ultimately, however, evaluation is important as a validity check, that is, ‘are library services, programs, and activities as successful as they might be and how could they be improved?’” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008, p181).

It is important however, that the criteria, which is different from the focus, is measurable. Determining this criteria is not always easy to establish and will change depending on the goals and expected outcome of the resource. For example some projects will have theory based criteria focusing on strength and weaknesses and some will be measured by hard data criteria such has collection circulation and weeding projects.  There are a couple of ways to make sure the criteria you are using is measurable. The North Carolina Medical Society Department of Education Services states that measurable objectives state the following: who is involved, the desired outcomes, how progress is measured, proficiency level and when the outcome will occur. (NCME) In other words you must be able to provide evidence that the outcome was achieved.

Evaluations are subjective, they are important, they need to be done with measurable criteria, but how does this apply to the library? Conducting thorough evaluations are a service to the library. Aside from conducting first-time evaluations of programs/resources to offer patrons, the evaluations keep the staff up to date and efficient; this is best recognized through ongoing assessments of existing services and how well they are offered. “Evaluation skills and knowledge – and practicing those skills and knowledge – may be the library’s best hope for continuing to play a key role in our society” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008, p191).

Evidence:

My first piece of evidence is a [CriticalEvaluationLetterSS] I wrote for Libr210, Reference Services. This letter evaluates a database, Lexis Nexis Academic, which is offered by the King Library. I chose to include this piece of evidence to show my understanding of evaluating a service that is already in use at the library. In this letter I critique the database on quality of resource, user experience and application to the library.

I measured quality of resource by conducting searches with a set of criteria and evaluating the relevant resources that resulted in each search. I measured the user experience by using the interface and acknowledging ease of use. This criteria would be best measured through a focus group and survey data however I did not have these tools or the time to test. I measured application of the database to the library by focusing on the library’s mission, the study body representation and the subject index of which Lexis Nexis offered material.

My second piece of evidence is a [Data Analysis] written for Libr285, Research Methods. I chose this piece of evidence to show my mastery of evaluating library services because it shows the process and method I took to analyze data for the use of SMS in libraries as a reference service. I was researching the use of this service in libraries to evaluate and support my proposal to implement the service in a made-up real-life situation library. This piece also shows how to evaluate a service based on hard data from surveys. I also evaluated the strength and weaknesses of the data I was analyzing, encompassing multiple methods of service evaluation.

My third piece of evidence is my Final Proposal – google voice written for Libr285, Research Methods. This proposal was written as a collective effort of a group, however the names of those involved except myself have been redacted to maintain the privacy of the other members. We researched and evaluated SMS services in libraries and then evaluated using Google Voice as a viable and budget friendly option. This proposal was the end result of evaluating the service and then working toward implementing it into the library. I choose to include it because it is a prime example of taking your evaluation and implementing it into a professional situation. Included in the proposal is the statement of need, the breakdown of implementation and most importantly the procedure by which we planned to assess the service [p5] and evaluate it further.

Conclusion:

Successful decisions have a higher occurrence rate is they are informed decisions. In our professional lives very few, if any, are fortunate enough to make a decision without data to back it up. Having substantial data to support for or against a program will not only help the library be more successful but those involved in the evaluation will stand more surely behind their decision. It is important to remember that the evaluation process is not a one-time thing, it is best as an ongoing basis.

References:

Haycock, K. and Sheldon, B. (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

North Carolina Medical Society. Retrieved from: http://www.ncmedsoc.org/pages/ncms_accreditation/Objectives.doc

List of Evidence:

CriticalEvaluationLetterSS

Data Analysis

Final Proposal – google voice

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