Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee – January–June 2024 Report

The group met 2-3 times this reporting period.

After reviewing the current PLA Strategic Plan, please tell us:

Describe the current work of this committee and how it supports our strategic goals. Include work accomplished, decisions made, and any recommended follow-up actions.
For the past several years, MEAC’s strategy has been to mainly work in subcommittees, each of which has goals and projects.

The Benchmark subcommittee has provided feedback to support annual development of Benchmark, including recommending improvements to the Benchmark product and providing feedback to PLA staff throughout the development process; and contribute to PLA efforts to increase adoption of Benchmark and subscriber retention, including collecting Benchmark presentation material for use by MEAC members at local and regional meetings.

The Project Outcome subcommittee supported exploring different approaches to user engagement to increase adoption and utilization of Project Outcome within public libraries. The subcommittee provided input on immediate and follow-up surveys for the technology topic, including a promotion plan, and refined promotional work proposals.

The Case Studies subcommittee developed a new process for soliciting and reviewing case studies that support PLA’s data tools. Derived from the model used by ACRL, the new process includes revised case study guidelines, a submission form, and individual roles for committee members in the review process to make the work more streamlined. The subcommittee is currently conducting a pilot to test the process.

The Topical Surveys subcommittee assisted with annual survey promotion and participation; gave input on survey results and provided staff with guidance about which results are of most interest to the field and should therefore be highlighted in reports; and worked with staff to revise and update the instrument for the annual topical survey.

In addition, committee members conducted direct promotion of Benchmark, Project Outcome, and the topical surveys at this spring’s PLA Conference through participation at scheduled drop-ins at the Member Lounge, representing the committee at the Data Lounge, and via individual networking. Committee members also wrote a letter to the PLA leadership, in advance of our transition to an Advisory Group. The letter conveys the contributions that the committee has made to the profession, the progress PLA’s data initiatives have made, the value this work continues to provide to the filed, and the opportunities that lay ahead. Data-informed practices play a crucial role in advocacy and planning for libraries of all types, and we hope that PLA continues to develop its leadership and support in this area.

Do you see opportunities to better align committee work with those goals?
MEAC has used the PLA strategic plan as the basis for all activities. For the coming year we see opportunities to align with the strategic goals in the following ways:
• Advocacy and Awareness
o Increase adoption of impact measurements that convey the true value of public libraries to the communities they serve and help stakeholders make decisions. Collaborate with other ALA divisions to expand data-informed practices.
• Professional Growth
o Increase the field’s understanding of data-informed practices, provide unique and valuable data to professionals, and increase the network of data-focused library professionals to provide support and growth to those innovating in the field.
• Organizational Excellence
o Participate in continuous improvement of PLA’s data products with a focus on increasing value for subscribers. Develop accessible resources to support adoption of PLA data products.

What recommendations do you have for in-coming committee members? Are there particular streams of
work in progress to be carried over into the new committee year?
(January–June reporting period only)
This year, MEAC members spent some time reflecting on the committee’s accomplishments and looking to the future. We are currently working on or intend to work in the following focus areas:

Education – Efforts are under way to produce more webinars, conference presentations, and case studies. Additionally, members are compiling a set of shared resources to encourage MEAC affiliates to present about PLA data products and related topics to local and regional audiences. The committee is investigating opportunities to partner with other ALA divisions, including the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Committee regarding data equity.

Community and awareness – MEAC’s goals include activities to increase adoption of PLA data tools and the practice of impact measurement. In support of these efforts, members are pursuing opportunities to collaborate between ALA divisions and expand the network of MEAAG affiliates. These actions are aimed at a long-term goal of fostering an inclusive, cross-functional community of practitioners to support the growth of data-informed practices in libraries.

Development of resources and standards – MEAC will continue to pursue opportunities to develop accessible resources to support adoption of PLA data products and practices throughout the field. Members see synergy between an increase in availability of funding for digital equity projects and a need for consistent evaluation practices for libraries seeking funding for these projects.

What specific activities will this committee undertake over the next six months to support that alignment? (July–December reporting period only)

Are there other PLA or ALA committees whose partnership and collaboration would accelerate meeting PLA strategic goals?
We see opportunities for increased collaboration with other committees as well as a division of ALA.

The Digital Literacy Committee is increasingly addressing the increase in interest in and visibility of digital equity as a result of landmark Federal legislation that provided funding to support these efforts. MEAC believe that PLA data products can help stakeholders make strong decision about how to best use those resources. Additionally, the increase in support for digital skills development can include opportunities for public-facing data literacy efforts.

MEAC continues to see opportunities to collaborate more closely with ACRL because of the shared platforms for Project Outcome and Benchmark products. MEAC is also investigating a partnership with the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Committee to increase awareness about data equity – considering equity throughout the processes of collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and communicating about data – and increasing adoption of equity-informed data work.

Is there anything else about your committee experience you’d like to share?
Committee members have found their participation to be a positive experience, and we look forward to continuing to support this work in our new role as an Advisory Group. With ongoing support, we believe MEAAG and PLA can further strengthen and expand data practices that are essential to the future success of public libraries and their initiatives.

Submitted by Dan Hensley, Jerianne Thompson on 06/06/2024