Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee – July–December 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.
The Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Committee (MEAC) has four major areas of work, aligned with PLA projects and products, with members participating in subcommittees to support each area.

Project Outcome: 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, committee members reviewed the results of the Project Outcome user survey and developed ideas for additional promotional work to support increased adoption and utilization.

Benchmark: 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 and to improve usability. Over the past six months, new video tutorials and use case documents were added to the site, with more resources in development. Committee members recommended improvements based on a report from the University of Michigan School of Information, as well as giving input on marketing efforts. The committee regularly provides support to PLA staff responsible for product development, including input on prioritization of potential product features.

Topical Surveys: MEAC 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, and help develop the current year survey. In summer 2023, MEAC members helped PLA staff present the results of the 2022 topical survey at the ALA Annual Conference and through a free webinar. Also during the reporting period, the Public Library Technology Survey was conducted (last conducted in 2020). The survey had the highest yet participating rate since the launch of the new topical surveys – 16.4%. Promotion through committee members’ professional networks contributed to this strong participation.

Case Studies: MEAC facilitates the writing of case studies for PLA’s data tools. Subcommittee members focused on identifying ways to make the process of soliciting, preparing, and reviewing case studies more efficient, to enable a more consistent process and increased publication. After reviewing the model used by ACRL, subcommittee members began developing a streamlined process; this work is still underway.

In addition to these efforts, MEAC members worked with PLA staff to curate the November/December 2023 issue of Public Libraries magazine, which had a theme of library data. The committee also conducted an environmental scan regarding what data tools are currently being used by public libraries.

Do you see opportunities to better align committee work with those goals?
MEAC members continue to pursue these growth areas in the 2023-24 committee year:

EDISJ – Data is a necessary component to advancing EDISJ in the profession. Through PLA's data tools, we help those in the profession better understand our communities (an essential step in making our spaces more inclusive), learn from other communities' successes, and measure our impact. In addition, applying an EDISJ lens to our committee's work will help ensure that data is gathered responsibly and that necessary context is provided when we present and share data.

Professional Growth – Data literacy is a growing field within librarianship, but there remain significant knowledge gaps within the profession regarding how to compile and evaluate data for purposes such as planning and advocacy. We will continue to encourage members to seek opportunities to contribute to supporting professional learning and development related to library data and evaluation.

Advocacy – PLA’s data tools provide considerable value to the profession, in helping us tell the story of how public libraries benefit communities. MEAC members are very invested in the success of these tools, and we are exploring ways we can increase awareness about the data, tools, and resources available to support library staff and leaders in communicating the impact and value of libraries to stakeholders.

Transformation – MEAC members represent a good cross-section of the field, with representation from public libraries, state library agencies, support organizations, and the private sector, from locations across the country. MEAC will continue to draw from these perspectives to identify emerging needs in the field. Working with the PLA data products, MEAC members will contribute to identification of trends and development of resources to support responsiveness to community needs.

Organizational Excellence – MEAC contributes to the quality of data products offered through PLA and will continue to work closely with PLA staff to support ongoing product development, as well as to advocate for increased adoption of data-informed practices that are supported by PLA’s products, educational opportunities, and publications.

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)
While MEAC will transition from a standing committee to an advisory group, much of our committee’s work remains ongoing, including promoting the results of the Library Technology survey, preparing for the 2024 Library Staff survey, and preparing for the 10-year anniversary of Project Outcome.

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 hope to continue building connections with our colleagues in two ACRL committees (Project Outcome for Academic Libraries Editorial board and Academic Library Trends and Survey Editorial Board).

Is there anything else about your committee experience you’d like to share?
We were thrilled to support the data-themed issue of Public Libraries this fall. MEAC’s liaisons – Sara Goek and Katina Jones – are fabulous to work with. They do a great job balancing the needs of the profession with the sustainability of data products. We appreciate the opportunity to continue MEAC’s good work as an advisory group.

Submitted by Jerianne Thompson, Dan Hensley on 01/09/2024