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?

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photo of people planning from Flickr user Balboa Park Cultural PartnershipEvery year YALSA’s Organization and Bylaws Committee (affectionately known as O&B) evaluates a selection of committees in order to make sure that their function statement and assigned tasks fit the needs of members and the association. In 2012 and 2013 O&B evaluated 13 of the association’s committees and reported to the Board at Midwinter 2013 and Annual 2013 on their findings. You can read both reports on the YALSA website – Midwinter 2013 committee evaluations and Annual 2013 committee evaluations.

The evaluation process is one that all O&B members take part in. Each committee member volunteered to work with the chair of one of the committees up for evaluation. As a group O&B developed a set of questions to ask each of the chairs of committees up for evaluation. Questions asked committee chairs to consider:

  • If the group’s function statement is accurate and if it reflects the current work of the committee. (You can read all YALSA Committee function statements on the YALSA website. Select a member group to read their statement.) Read More →