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.
The Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Committee (MEAC) has four major areas of work, with members participating in subcommittees to support each area.
MEAC assists PLA with supporting user engagement and developing new resources for the Project Outcome toolkit to meet the evolving needs of the field. During the reporting period, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were integrated within Project Outcome. Subcommittee members developed a resource for Project Outcome users explaining SDGs, their significance, and how to apply them to surveys. Committee members supported staff in the presentation of a webinar about the SDGs’ integration and how to leverage evaluative efforts.
The committee also provided support to PLA staff responsible for conducting a survey of Project Outcome’s 19,000+ users this Spring. Survey results will inform future improvements to the product.
The Case Studies subcommittee facilitates the writing of case studies for PLA’s data tools. The subcommittee is developing new case studies, including interviewing a public library director to inform a Project Outcome case study, with another in development focused on using Project Outcome while assessing community needs and strategic planning.
Subcommittee members provided feedback on case studies for Benchmark recently developed by capstone project students from the University of Washington, covering use cases for public and academic libraries. The subcommittee is considering the creation of guidelines and/or an interview form to improve and speed the process of compiling case studies.
MEAC supports PLA by advising the development of the Benchmark tool and by helping to develop resources to encourage libraries to engage in benchmarking practices. With the product successfully launched, MEAC has focused on efforts to improve usability and increase adoption.
In the past year, subcommittee members have given input on marketing efforts, including helping to identify audiences, giving feedback on messaging, and to promote adoption of Benchmark within our own networks.
The committee also provided support to PLA staff responsible for product development. The subcommittee provided detailed feedback about the design of the tool to inform regularly scheduled development of Benchmark. MEAC members also participated in a University of Michigan student-led user testing for Benchmark directly and also indirectly by connecting potential participants to the consulting group. Committee members also drafted descriptive subtitles to help guide users to different sections of the site.
PLA Topical Surveys
The Topical Surveys subcommittee assists PLA staff with the development, testing, and reporting of new annual topical surveys administered via Benchmark. Subcommittee members provide support from the field, with a focus on helping to boost response rates, giving input on the previous year’s survey report, and helping to develop the current year survey.
The subcommittee members promoted the 2022 survey, Services for Strong Communities, to their professional networks, which contributed to a strong response rate. Once the survey closed, members reviewed preliminary data to provide input about the results, including recommendations for focus areas for the Results for Action sections of the upcoming survey report. MEAC members will also help PLA staff present the survey results in a session at ALA Annual in June and at a free webinar in July.
The 2023 survey will update the 2020 Library Technology Survey, and so subcommittee members have been active in helping PLA staff clarify and refine the language used in the instrument, while avoiding any changes that would compromise our ability to compare data over time.
Do you see opportunities to better align committee work with those goals?
MEAC members have much expertise and experience to contribute to the PLA's strategic goals. Below are some growth areas that we plan to pursue in the 2023-24 committee year.
The members of MEAC bring a wealth of experience as well as specialized knowledge of library metrics, performance evaluation, and the use of data for planning and advocacy. We will continue to encourage members to seek opportunities to contribute that expertise to learning and conversations within the field and to support the development of PLA’s data-related training and resources.
Advocacy and Awareness
MEAC members are very invested in the success of PLA’s data projects – these tools provide considerable value to the profession, and contribute to the sustainability of PLA’s efforts to bring data-informed practices to the field. Members will continue to seek opportunities to increase uptake of PLA data projects such as Benchmark and Project Outcome through case studies, education, and promotion to our networks. These resources will expand the ability of library staff and leaders to communicate the impact and value of libraries to local stakeholders and beyond.
Members of MEAC are a good cross-section of the field, with representation from public libraries, state library agencies, and the private sector, as well as a variety of regions. MEAC will apply these perspectives to the data projects that we support to identify emerging needs in the field. The Library Services for Strong Communities data in particular will provide a good benchmark for action toward evolving services. Working with the PLA data products, MEAC members will contribute to identification of trends in public library services and development of resources to support responsiveness to community needs.
PLA’s Organizational Excellence goals are reflected in the quality of products offered in the field, and MEAC contributes to those products. MEAC will continue to work closely with our incredible staff members to support the further development of the Benchmark product, as well as to advocate for increased adoption of data-informed practices that are supported by PLA’s products, educational opportunities and publications.
MEAC will make every effort to apply an EDISJ lens to all of our work, helping to ensure that data is gathered responsibly and that necessary context is provided when we present data that can illustrate the field’s important, foundational efforts to make the field as equitable as possible. For example, the MEAC was very involved in the design, execution, and publication of the 2021 Staff and Diversity Survey and the accompanying report from 2022; these efforts reflect an important contribution to the field’s EDISJ work.
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)
In our welcome message to incoming committee members, MEAC Co-chairs encouraged our new members to take some time to become familiar with PLA’s data projects, and to begin to think about which subcommittee assignments would be of interest.
Much of our work is ongoing, and so MEAC will have a considerable number of in-progress projects as we move into the new committee year. The agenda for the June full committee meeting may include reviewing and promoting updates to Benchmark, preparations to publish the results of the 2022 Services for Strong Communities survey, and preparation to launch and publicize the 2023 Library Technology Survey.
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?
During the past year, MEAC members found many parallels between our work and the work of two ACRL committees that have a similar charge – Project Outcome for Academic Libraries Editorial Board and Academic Library Trends and Survey Editorial Board. We hope to connect with these colleagues in the coming year to learn from their work and potentially collaborate on our related projects.
Is there anything else about your committee experience you’d like to share?
We would like to express our gratitude and admiration for our hard-working, brilliant staff liaisons Sara Goek and Katina Jones. They are truly a pleasure to work with, provide us with so much guidance, and make a huge impact with their work.
Submitted by Jerianne Thompson, Daniel Hensley on 06/06/2023