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Evaluating the Impact of Your Library



Assessing impact is increasingly critical to the survival of services: managers now require comprehensive information about effectiveness, especially in relation to users. Outlining a rigorously tested approach to library evaluation and offering practical tools and highly relevant examples, this book enables LIS managers to get to grips with the slippery concept of service impact and to address their own impact questions in their planning. The 2nd edition is fully updated to include international approaches to qualitative library evaluation, new international research, and current debates on the evolving nature of evaluation, as well as reflections on the importance of involving stakeholders and of evaluation to guide advocacy.
Key topics include:

  • The demand for evidence
  • Getting to grips with impact
  • The research base of this work
  • Putting the impact into planning
  • Getting things clear: objectives
  • Success criteria and impact indicators: how you know you are making a difference
  • Making things happen: activities and process indicators
  • Thinking about evidence
  • Gathering and interpreting evidence
  • Taking stock, setting targets and development planning
  • Doing national or international evaluation
  • Where do we go from here?

Readership: Practising library and information service managers and policy makers in the field. LIS policy shapers and managers in public, education (schools, further and higher education), health and special libraries and information services working in any country or internationally and people engaged in professional education in the field such as lecturers or students.

Impact and all that: use of some key terms in this bookPART 1: THE CONTEXT1. The demand for evidence

  • Why is evidence of impact an issue for libraries (and information services)?
  • Emerging interest in the management of change
  • What is distorting the picture?
  • Why is it important to tackle impact?

2. Getting to grips with impact

  • A metaphor and a model
  • Why is impact such a slippery concept?
  • Overviews of impact
  • Changing how we think of evidence
  • What does impact mean?

3. The research base of this work

  • What we know about impact from the management literature
  • Evidence-based practice and the LIS picture
  • The overall research picture
  • What we don't know
  • Where our model comes from

PART 2: EVALUATING IMPACT4. Putting the impact into planning

  • Why do we need a new evaluation model?
  • The model
  • Using the model
  • And the first question is
  • How do you currently measure your success as a service?

5. Getting things clear: objectives

  • Choosing where to get involved
  • The mission
  • Where can libraries make an impact?
  • From impact areas to objectives
  • Some examples of objectives
  • Why objectives matter

6. Success criteria and impact indicators: how you know you are making a difference

  • Formulating success criteria: getting the balance right
  • What sorts of changes will show impact?
  • What is an impact indicator?
  • What do good indicators look like?
  • What do you do if you don't know what impact to expect?
  • What makes a poor indicator?
  • Some issues to consider before you start writing indicators
  • Writing indicators
  • Getting the words right
  • Using frameworks to help you choose appropriate indicators
  • Some indicators

7. Making things happen: activities and process indicators

  • Why activities? Why now?
  • Identify activities
  • Review the activities
  • Process indicators
  • Output indicators
  • Process and output indicators: things to watch
  • The 'reach' of the service

8. Thinking about evidence

  • Deciding your approach to gathering evidence
  • The organizational context
  • Finding strong surrogates for impact evidence
  • Ethical evidence-gathering
  • Matching the evidence to your needs
  • What counts as impact evidence?
  • Fitness for the purpose
  • Other methods of gathering impact evidence

9. Gathering and interpreting evidence

  • Observation
  • Asking questions
  • Interviewing
  • Getting impact information from people in groups
  • Collecting stories and constructing case studies as impact evidence
  • Action research
  • Doing it!
  • Analysing data
  • Interpreting and presenting your evidence
  • Sources on research methods
  • Finding research methods e-resources
  • Evidence or advocacy?

10. Taking stock, setting targets and development planning

  • Taking stock: reviewing your impact and process indicators
  • Setting targets for impact
  • Process targets
  • Development planning
  • Planning your impact evaluation

PART 3: THE BIGGER PICTURE11. Doing national or international evaluation

  • Looking at the national and international picture
  • Negotiate the terminology
  • Respond to the national impact challenge
  • What can national or international library evaluation try to achieve?
  • Are you ready for impact evaluation?
  • Start evaluation with programme design – and learn as you go
  • Identifying a framework for national and international impact evaluation
  • Developing an approach to impact evaluation at national level
  • Ethical evaluation
  • Emergent evaluation revisited
  • Plan the evaluation
  • Starting to enact your plan
  • Sustain the process
  • Thoughts on advocacy
  • Some examples of impact evidence and advocacy
  • Impact evaluation, advocacy and service sustainability

12. Where do we go from here?

  • Getting impact evaluation right
  • Getting beyond the narrow focus
  • Digging deeper
  • Looking long enough
  • Getting help
  • Towards impact benchmarking
  • Towards evidence-based working?
  • Other visions

David Streatfield leads Information Management Associates, a research, training and consultancy team working in education, health and libraries. He has over 25 years' experience in educational and social sciences research and consultancy, including several years as Head of Information Research and Development at NFER. Both David and Sharon are Independent Impact Consultants to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Libraries Initiative and have worked in a similar capacity for various overseas and international programmes including the International Federation of Library Associations and the United National Development Agency in Bulgaria.
Sharon Markless is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at King's College, London and at the University of Surrey. She carries out research and consultancy work with Information Management Associates in the field of public, academic and school libraries. She is a trained teacher and was formerly a Senior Researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

"Writing a review on a second edition of any book that one has reviewed before is not an easy task, especially if one's favourable opinion shows up on the cover of the second edition for attracting readers's attention. Nevertheless, I thought that it is worth repeating myself six and a half years later because this edition is as good as the first one."

Information Research

"Stands out as a shining example of how a guide should be written." - Information Research "The strength of the book lies in its duality as both a tool and as an insightful analysis of the context, concepts and methodologies required to demonstrate the effectiveness of your library." - Ariadne

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