I love to talk about evaluation strategies that can make our organizational successes more visible. So I was thrilled for the opportunity to team-teach a continuing education workshop with Beth Layton, Associate Director of the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region, at the annual Michigan Health Sciences Libraries Association (MHSLA) meeting. We taught Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders on September 25 in Flint, MI.
Our primary objective was to help participants discover how they can use evaluation to collect evidence of their libraries’ contributions to their larger organizations. Participants first identified their library activities that directly support the mission of their organizations and goals of key decision-makers. They then focused on developing evaluation plans for activities with high impact potential. The plans emphasized metrics related to organizational mission. We talked about analytic strategies, including monetary-based approaches such as cost-benefit analysis. The workshop concluded with tips for communicating with stakeholders.
There is a 10-year history behind this workshop. The concept of linking evaluation and library advocacy was introduced to the NN/LM by Maryanne Blake from the NN/LM Pacific Northwest Region (now retired), and Betsy Kelly, Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator at the NN/LM MidContental Region. They developed the first NN/LM evaluation-for-library-advocacy workshop, Measuring Your Impact (MYI), which exploded in popularity and was taught by regional medical library staff throughout the country. Betsy made additional contributions in this area, including her value and cost-benefit analysis calculators. These calculators are publically available and have been featured in various NN/LM evaluation classes. Several regions have adapted MYI into shorter workshops to better fit the meeting schedules of associations that host NN/LM workshops.
Beth and I merged the GMR and OERC short versions for our MHSLA workshop. We stuck with the basic goals of the original MYI class, but introduced some new exercises and new approaches to communicating evaluation results. I developed a new worksheet to help participants practice matching library activities to organizational mission and goals. For the communication part of the workshop, we practiced messaging with Nancy Duarte’s “sparkline” presentation structure (presented here in her TEDTalk) and Tim David’s version of elevator speeches.
The class was well-received, with 92% of participants giving us an “A” rating (on a scale of “A” to “F”). Eighty-two percent of participants said the class improved their confidence about using evaluation to demonstrate their library’s value. Asked how likely they were to use the information from the class, 73% said “very likely” and 27% said “somewhat likely.” A quick qualitative analysis of their written comments on the evaluation form indicated that the following strategies were they were most interested in pursuing: Appreciative Inquiry interviews, logic models, and elevator pitches (as described in OERC blog posts here and here).
I want to express my appreciation to Jacqueline Leskovec at the NN/LM GMR, who bravely piloted some of the new content in advance of the our MHSLA workshop. Jacqueline is one of the GMR coordinators who adapted MYI for her region. She was on the North Dakota Library Association’s meeting program to teach Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders on September 17, more than a week before Beth and I traveled to Flint. Jacqueline tried out our new material and reported back.
I also want to thank our MHSLA participants, who made the class so engaging and enjoyable. If any of our attendees have successes or lessons learned from using the strategies covered in the class, please contact me at email@example.com. I would love to feature your experience in a blog post.