Evaluation in Libraries

  • Evaluation in LibrariesEvaluation is a vital tool for providing effective, high quality library programs. Evaluating your programs can provide the data to help you understand what works and what doesn't for particular programs, patron groups or communities. In doing so, evaluation data can help you manage staff and resources and communicate your library's impact in the community. You can accomplish this whether you are a director, a department head, or programming staff. Below are links and materials to help you get started or to help you improve on the road to evaluation. Please contact Karren Reish at reishk@michigan.gov or 517-241-0021 if you have any questions.


  • Types of EvaluationThere are a range of quality evaluation techniques, but the materials here focus on Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE). OBE is a systematic way to plan user-centered programs and to measure the program's impact on the user. Instead of measuring what you did (number of classes), you measure what difference you made in your patron's life (got a job after the taking the resume class).

    OBE evaluation can take you from counting widgets to understanding how you are improving your community. The Library of Michigan supports OBE both for the effect it can have and because it is the evaluation technique that the Institute of Museum and Library Services encourages for use with LSTA funded projects. It is becoming the evaluation technique of choice among non-profits as well, including United Way organizations.

    For programs that OBE may not be appropriate for, the Library of Michigan also supports the Stakeholder Evaluation technique.

    For those libraries who want to understand their community needs in terms of technology, the University of Washington Information School has designed an Impact Survey that libraries may use.

Online Classes

  • Online Evaluation ClassesShaping Outcomes
    Indiana University School of Information and Library Science's Shaping Outcomes course is an outcome-baseed evaluation course. It can be reviewed online for free or taken as an instructor moderated course for a fee. The instructor led course runs three times a year and is four weeks long. The instructor guides students through the development of an evaluation plan for a program of their choice.


  • Evaluation Presentations for LibrariesThe Library of Michigan has three workshops that you can arrange for your cooperative or library staff.

    Outcome Based Evaluation - The Nuts and Bolts of Learning What Impact Your Programs Have in Your Community:
    This all day workshop takes you through what outcome based evaluation is and how to use it to plan and evaluate your programs.

    Improving Your Library through Program Evaluation:
    Understanding how your programs impact your community is a basic building block for deciding how to use your valuable staff and materials. This half day workshop will help you integrate community assessment and outcome based evaluation into everyday library management.

    Making the Case for Your Library through Program Evaluation:
    In tight economic times, proving how your library benefits your community can be what it takes to get a grant or conduct a successful capital campaign. This half day workshop will help you use community assessment and outcome based evaluation to prove your library's worth.