Measure It!

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

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.

imageI practically lived on coffee and doughnuts this past weekend at the YALSA Symposium in Portland. Not that I'm complaining; if you're going to drink lots of coffee, Portland is the place to do it. I began my symposium experience with the Friday afternoon preconference Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries with the hope of gaining some programming ideas. I walked out three hours later with a newfound comfort-level using the program and, yes, concrete ideas for how to use it at my library. Having three hours allotted for experimenting, asking questions, and watching what other people created helped immensely.

At Teen Services without Borders, a panel of school and public librarians and an independent bookseller that discussed challenges and successful partnerships that cross library, departmental, and district lines. Boundaries can feel like brick walls when they prevent teens from accessing the library, and the panel members ultimately decided they needed to serve teens and not the rules, viewing themselves as part of the same community, not competitors. Tips they shared include: Give up your ego. Put kids first. Promote each other's programs and services. Ask for help and keep trying until you find the right person. Finally, take a hard look at the rules - can any be broken?

Read More →

As many of you are aware, YALSA’s current Strategic Plan and its companion document—the Action Plan—run through 2015.

In mid-2014, YALSA's Board began discussing the need for a new strategic plan, put together a Strategic Planning Taskforce and conducted a membership-wide survey. However, since the publication of the report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action,” called for significant changes in teen services, YALSA's Board agreed that the traditional approach to strategic planning was no longer a good fit for YALSA and its needs.

The Board felt that it was necessary to take a step back and rethink the organization’s purpose, focus and structure in order to enable YALSA to be well-positioned to help its members adopt the recommendations in the report and transform library services for and with teens. Most importantly, the Board agreed to use the Futures Report as its guide for the strategic planning process. As a part of this, a 'teens first' message has been the broad focus throughout this process. All of us are passionate about helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Keeping this foremost in our minds throughout strategic planning discussions is what we have striven to do.

In the past, YALSA's Board did not have a call-to-action or vision document of this type from which to base its strategic planning efforts. In this sense, the Board felt it was starting a new round of strategic planning with an advantage over past rounds. However, in late 2014 and early 2015 the strategic planning process stalled while the Board struggled to find a consultant who could help lead YALSA through a new, and nontraditional organizational planning process. So, an RFP was put together in the spring in order to find what YALSA needed. Then, over the summer, YALSA's leaders reviewed proposals from potential consultants and in August signed a contract with the Whole Mind Strategy Group.

The plan is for the Board have in-depth, generative discussions now through the Board's meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. A first step was for YALSA's Executive Committee to meet this past weekend, where the committee did a "scouting expedition"/environmental scan in order to identify what external and internal factors were impacting teen services in libraries.

Next, the Board will get together in January to discuss this scan and develop a vision for how YALSA can make the recommendations in the Futures Report a reality. The goal is to have a new plan in place by the end of February.

This new document will be different from the past strategic plan format in a few key ways. First, it will be a three year plan, not a five year one. Additionally, the plan will have new components including an intended impact statement, a theory of change statement, organizational outcomes, and a learning plan. To learn more about these new components, visit Bridgespan Group's website. Traditional elements, such as goals and objectives and an action plan will also be included.

I and other YALSA Board members will post updates about the process on the YALSAblog and share news in the weekly YALSA e-News. I am also holding a Member Town Hall via Twitter on November 30th from 7:00 – 8:00pm, Eastern, where I'll provide an update on the process and answer any questions. Please join in with the #yalsachat hashtag.

If you have any questions for me, please don't hesitate to get in touch via candice.yalsa [at]

YALSA's Board is very excited about the possibilities that a new strategic plan will open up for YALSA and its members, and we hope you are, too!

Together we can work to put teens first and ensure that all of the nation's teens have a chance at a brighter future.

Say It With Stats!

The next step is finding the evidence to support why your project is needed. The reasons why a community needs a specific library service can be clearly illustrated with real-world statistics. Statistics about a community's demographics, test scores, economic make-up, and geography are readily available through a myriad of online resources.

Here is a list of great online resources to find specific statistics on demographics, education, health, and more:

The Kids County Data Center, part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation

  • Data related to children and young adults
  • Organized by education, demographics, economic well-being, safety and risk behaviors, family and community, and health
  • Searchable by topic or by geographical location

The Pew Internet and American Life Project

Great Schools

  • Comprehensive overview, ratings, test schools, and reviews of public schools
  • Searchable by zip code, school district, school name, address, or city

U.S. Census

  • 10-year data collection of United States households
  • Demographics, education, economic well-being, and more
  • Searchable by geographic location.
  • American Factfinder:

Additional resources include your school district’s report card and your library’s annual statistical report.  These local reports can be invaluable when stating your case. If statistics are used in the application, be sure to cite their source.

Citing your sources can be simple as, "According to the Kids Count Data Center (a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation), North Dakota had the highest number of young adults in juvenile detention centers in 2011." Another example is, "The U. S. Census’ 2013 American Community Survey reports that 45% of adults in Atlanta Georgia who do not have a high school diploma also live in poverty." This last example supports the need for programs that encourage teens to complete high school.

You do not have to include a wealth of statistics to make your case. One or two statistics can give insight to why your project is needed. Good luck! In next week's blog post, I will give several suggestions on how to measure the success of your project.

Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System.

Happy Veterans’ Day and Native American Heritage Month!

I've just returned from YALSA's inaugural YA Services Symposium and Fall Executive Committee Meeting and I am so pumped and inspired by the incredible work that all of our members are doing!

I'm looking forward to expanding on my experiences at both events in some other blog posts, but in the meantime, here is what I've been working on since September 2015:


  • Called for YALSA Board to vote on location for YALSA’s 2017 YA Services Symposium
    • The 2017 YA Services Symposium will be held in Louisville, KY
  • Called for YALSA Board to vote on Rachel McDonald’s Board Member-at-Large vacancy
    • Due to the time frame of her term, the Board voted to leave the position vacant until the upcoming ALA/YALSA elections in Spring 2016
  • Completed and submitted welcome for 2015 YA Services Symposium program
  • Completed and submitted President’s column for Winter 2016 issue of YALS
  • Worked with YALSA Executive Board Members Linda Braun, Sarah Hill and Todd Krueger to facilitate October 2015 Board Development Chat
  • Discussed and debriefed with YALSA Standing Board Committees regarding YALSA Quarterly Chair reports during October 2015 Board Development Chat
  • Submitted and posted September 2015 President’s Report
  • Worked with YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill to determine YALSA Board Development Chat topic for November 2015
  • Completed planning, agenda and documents for YALSA’s 2015 Fall Executive Committee Meeting
  • Discussed Libraries Transforming Communities campaign with ALA President Sari Feldman, who will be interviewed for the YALSAblog
  • Found coordinator for Summer Learning pre-conference at ALA Midwinter

Works in Progress

Important YALSA Dates & Reminders

Relevant Stats & Data

Last, but certainly not least -


  • Amanda F. Barnhart, Caroline E. Aversano, Kristyn Dorfman, Aimee Haslam, Samantha Millsap, Gretchen Smither, and Melissa Patrice West for all for their hard work on this year’s Teen Read Week Committee
  • YALSA Board Members, especially the members of YALSA's Executive Committee, for great discussion and support of our members, committees and association
  • All of our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, every day!

Until next time!

Respectfully submitted,

Candice Mack, YALSA President

Read It!

The most important thing when applying for a grant is to read the fine print. Knowing what will be expected will protect you from signing up for something that is unachievable. Below are several questions to ask when reviewing the guidelines of a grant.

  1. What do you have to provide?
    • Is this a match grant?
    • Do you have to provide volunteer opportunities?
  2. If a grant is through an organization, such as the ALA, do you have to be a member?
  3.  Do you have to advertise? If so, in what ways?
    • Your library may have policy about how they advertise funding sources, such as corporations or for-profit institutions.
    • Some grants require recognition on all publicity materials, including print and digital materials. This may or may not be feasible for you to do.
  4. What statistics will you have to collect?
    • Be sure that you can collect the statistics that are required. It is best to figure out ahead of time how you will collect all necessary stats.
  5. What do you have to document in the final report?
    • If you know ahead of time, it is so much easier!
  6. What is the project’s timeline going to look like?
    • Will this conflict with other responsibilities? Be sure to find out when application and final reports are due.
  7. Is the effort and time worth the outcomes?
    • You know better than anyone if you can handle a project of this scope. Measure whether or not this will be worth it!

After assessing all these factors, one can knowledgably decide whether a particular grant is a good fit for your project. In next week’s post, using statistics in grant applications will be discussed. The hard facts can say it all, so statistics can really illustrate why your project is needed in the community. Stay tuned!

Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System.

Plan It!

The best way to figure out how to get your project funded is to plan out all its details. I like to think of it as "the five W’s”: the who, what, where, when, and why. By thinking through all the details, you kill two birds with one stone.  You end up strategizing how to have successful outcomes, as well as gather all the information typically asked when seeking outside funding.


  •       What age group or demographics will benefit?
  •       What evidence shows how target audience will be affected?
  •       What staff will be needed?


  •    What supplies, equipment, & training are needed?
  •    Of these, what does the library already own?
  •    What needs to be purchased? How much do these cost?


  •    What is the general timeline?
  •    Where will project take place?
  •    Do you have the space that is needed?


  •    What are the start and end dates?
  •    What days and times, if applicable?


  •    Why is this project needed?
  •    What are the expected outcomes?

It may seem tedious, but if you can answer these questions, then you are ready to write a grant. Next week, we will learn how to navigate all the details specific to each individual grant.

Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System.