I wanted to share a blog with the OLA-LART community that concerns itself with program evaluation called Evaluation is an Everyday Activity. This is an Oregon based blog from Molly Engle at Oregon State University. Molly is an evaluation specialist for OSU’s Extension Service. I think libraries can learn a lot from other evaluation experts outside of libraries such as Molly. For example, she shares insights about evaluation techniques such qualitative and quantitative data analysis, what your results mean such as causation, presenting your results, and even informational literacy among many other evaluation/assessment related topics.
Extension Services shared the common need with libraries to document and demonstrate impact. Molly frames evaluation in this manner:
So for me and what you need to know about program evaluation is this:
- The root of evaluation is value (OED lists the etymology as [a. Fr. évaluation, f. évaluer, f. é- =es- (: L. ex) out + value])
- Program evaluation IS systematic.
- Program evaluation DOES collect, analyze, and utilize information.
- Program evaluation ATTEMPTS to determine the merit, worth, or value of a program.
- Program evaluation ANSWERS this question:
“What difference does this program make in the lives and well being of (fill in the blank here—citizens of Oregon, my 4-H club, residents of the watershed, you get the idea).”
I hope you can make the connection that libraries want to answer the same question,
“What difference does (insert library service) make in the lives and well being of our patrons?”