In April the YALSA Board adopted a new and ambitious organizational plan with three goal areas:
Leading the transformation of teen library services
Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
Funder and partner development
In the past, YALSA has relied on members volunteering to work on committees for one or two years to accomplish our goals. Every quarter, committee chairs are are required to submit a chair report to inform YALSA about the work they have accomplished and what they are working toward on the horizon. The Board is excited that as we have moved the new plan forward, we have started to change the way members can work with YALSA, developing new volunteering opportunities that include more short-term projects. With a new organizational plan, and a new way of working, it has become clear that we also need a new way to measure the impact of YALSA volunteers.
At Midwinter, the Board will explore what outcomes of volunteer work are the most important to measure, and what methods are needed to best measure our performance.
- What are our biggest needs and priorities around outcomes measurement that should be tackled first?
- What measurements would best help the Board monitor and assess our progress toward fulfilling the goals of the Organizational Plan?
- How can we best monitor the progress of and measure the impact of different groups, including:
- The Board
- Appointed groups (committees, juries, advisory boards and taskforces)
- How can the Quarterly Reporting Form be leveraged to monitor progress? Should there be an annual report from a chair at the end of the committee term to identify outcomes and accomplishments of the committee over the past year? (as suggested by committee chairs at the November Strategic Committee Chair Chat)
- Bloggers and the content experts on the Hub
- New volunteer activities, especially those that are short-term and opt-in
- The members’ front line activities that directly support YALSA’s work, such as participation in District Days, National Library Legislative Day, Teen Tech Week, etc.?
- What sort of trend analysis related to volunteer work and impact, if any, is needed? What pieces of data? And how often?
If you have any ideas or thoughts about the questions above, please leave them in the comments! Or send them directly to me.
If you are wondering what the board is up to at Midwinter, you can see the schedule of board meetings and agenda. If you are attending ALA Midwinter and you see a board member (look for our YALSA Board Member ribbons) please come up and say hello! We would love to hear from you!
Kate McNair is a YALSA Board Member. Come see her at the YALSA booth #709 on Saturday, January 21 9-10:30am.
As 2016 gets underway you might be thinking about opportunities for professional learning. YALSA’s “Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” highlights the importance of continuous learning as a way to inform and improve practice and as a way to help others in your institution, and community, learn about the importance of the work you do with and for teens. As you start 2016 consider the following topics as areas you might focus on in your professional learning over the next year.
- Design Thinking
Using the process of design thinking to help teens develop knowledge in STEM, college and career readiness, and 21st century skills is something to add to your repertoire. Design thinking focuses on solving problems and coming up with solutions. In service for and with teens this kind of thinking should be embedded in everything you do. Continue reading
Do you have a maker space?
Do you provide STEM-based programs?
Do you work with community partners?
Do you have afterschool programs and services?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, I have another question for you, “why?”
The reason I ask is that a lot of times I hear library staff working for and with teens talk about the great programs they sponsor and develop with teens – robot making and coding and creative writing – but I don’t hear much about the why. And, it’s that why that is most important. I know it might not seem like it, but it is. Why? Because it’s the why that helps make sure that the programs are going to help teens grow up to be successful academically and in their personal lives. Because it’s the why that is what funders and elected officials and community members are going to want to know in order to decide if your program is worth funding or supporting in another way.
For years and years and years (I’ve worked in libraries for a long-time) I’ve talked about and heard about the importance of school and public library collaboration. And, over the years, I’ve talked about and heard about how hard it is to be successful in this area. It actually seems to me that the challenges and barriers that I’ve been talking about and hearing about for a couple of decades haven’t really changed. And, they certainly haven’t gone away.
The fact that conversations remain the same over a long period of time, got me thinking – Maybe we are going about this the wrong way. Maybe, instead of the focus being on what we regularly call school and public library collaboration (the thing we do), what we really need to focus on is what is required in order to have positive lasting outcomes/impacts for students and teachers (what we want to achieve). This was brought home to me this week when I read the post Building Relationships Through the Use of Technology by George Couros. The ideas embedded in the image he included in that post (shown on the left) really resonated with me.
In April the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a Week of Making which started on 6/12 and runs through 6/18. The Week is being held in part in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the first ever Maker Faire at the White House. During that first Faire President Obama said:
Maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.
As a member of YALSA’s Programming Guidelines taskforce I thought of my library’s teen technology intern program that’s been in existence since 2005 and has utilized an outcome based measurement system in the last few years to measure success.
The Teen Programming Guidelines devote a fair amount of space to discuss the details of developing programs that “Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement.” Basically it points to more than attendance being the sole measure of success for a program. Considering both short and long-term goals defined by teen participants themselves, in what they hope to learn can be a way to assess if a program is on track or if it needs to be tweaked in any way. Evaluations can take the form of pre and post surveys, a face-to-face conversation, or even informally asking questions. Aside from what teens defining their goals, other capacities a program might want to focus on is “. . .an improvement or expansion of knowledge, skills, confidence, attitude, or behavior.” Pre and post surveys can do well in capturing this data because they can show a change from when the teen started the program to when they completed. Sometimes the hardest part is remembering to give them the survey!
Admission time: like many of us in Library Land, I am still figuring out the best ways to measure program outcomes. Marking attendance is relatively easy (although to be fair, sometimes the teens move do around a lot, which can make them tricky to count). It’s a bit harder to identify the changes I want to see as a result of my program, and then accurately measure those changes.
The Programming Guidelines ask us to “Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement.” I’m not quite there yet. As I mentioned in my post about our weekly drop-in, we’ve been working with participants in that program to identify priorities, and now we’re moving towards evaluations that will measure whether those priorities are being met. But it’s still a work in progress.
What I have gotten better at is working with community partners to create evaluations for programs. For example, we regularly work collaborate with Year Up to build their students’ information and digital literacy skills. Before each workshop, we meet with Year Up staff to make sure that we’ll be teaching the skills they want participants to gain. Collaborating with partners on our evaluations and learning from them about their own evaluation methods has made a huge difference in the quality of our evaluations overall.
At Year Up, I give the students pre- and post-tests to see how much our classes are moving the needle on desired skills and knowledge. We send Year Up staff an early draft of the tests (same questions for both) and incorporate their feedback in the final evaluation tool. Seems foolproof, right?