Many grant reports require a scientific method to evaluate one’s project. There are several ways to approach this. An age-old method is the survey. Printed surveys can easily be passed out in the library, and electronic surveys can be emailed to patrons or added to the library’s website and social media sites. Surveys can ask patrons to rate the project’s quality, relativity, and other factors using a Likert Scale, as well as be given the opportunity to give comments and suggestions. This collection of quantitative as well as qualitative data can help give a comprehensive understanding of a project’s impact.
The library might already be collecting statistics that can be used as to analyze a grant-funded project. Attendance, for example, can help measure success. These can include, but are not limited to, the attendance to a specific program, the automated door count, use in a specific service, use in circulation, and number of library cardholders.
Documenting any positive impacts that occur after a project can also suggest success. For example, a library receives funding for six months of Teen Parent programming. Over the course of the next eighteen months, parenting books and audiovisual materials increase in circulation. This suggests a successful after-effect of the grant supported program.
If a project is intended for high school students, then public school test scores may have a correlation. This may be especially true for projects that provide educational resources to students, such as STEM programs, creative writing workshops, or tutoring classes. These are all great examples of projects that may have an effect on test scores. School districts are required to post test scores, which can be attained directly from the school’s website, a state’s Department of Education, or ww.greatschools.com.
These methods not only give validation when success is achieved, but can also paint a comprehensive picture in what failed. If a program saw high attendance, but patrons rated it poorly on surveys, then initiate further discourse on how to redesign future programs. Using several of these methods can better help a library know how to best serve its community.
In next week’s post, writing tips will be given to help you keep your grant application clear and concise. After all, you don’t want to have done all this work only to have your application turned down for poor grammar or typos!
Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System.