Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.
Information professionals are tasked with numerous evaluations in their daily work, from evaluating services and activities that can be delivered to serve a community, to assessing whether the delivery of those activities are effective. Through quality evaluations using defined criteria, librarians determine the impact of the services their institution provides, which makes it imperative that information professionals are prepared and knowledgeable on how to design and administer an evaluation. At its core, an evaluation can be defined as “the process of determining the results, costs, outcomes, impacts, successes, and other factors related to a library’s collections, programs, serves, or resource use” (Matthews, 2018, p.255) and this practice can be particularly meaningful for data-driven organizations. In order for managers to make informed decisions, they must weigh a number of factors, and doing this in a systematic way allows for good information to guide an organization’s leaders into a good decision. An evaluation performs the following functions for an organization:
Regardless of what an evaluation is focused on, they gather either qualitative or quantitative data, or a mixture of the two. Qualitative data examines and derives meaning from comments and observations, and can use diaries, interviews, concept mappings, and delphi groups as the source of that information (Matthews, 2018). Quantitative data, on the other hand, assigns and examines a numerical value by which it derives meaning, which can come from counting, measuring, surveys, transactional analyses, experiments, or statistical analyses (Matthews, 2018). With either method, it is important to be sure that the data sample size is large enough to be representative of the population so that the information gathered can reliably be generalized for that group.
Evaluations are valuable because they enable all tiers of the library’s hierarchy to review and react to different criteria such as the efficiency and extensiveness of different programs, the quality of service delivered by the service or program, and the impact of the delivered programming on the community it’s designed to serve. Additionally, evaluations inform stakeholders as the usefulness of the delivered programming and any positive outcomes that might be delivered to the community. Following the collection and analysis of the data, the evaluation results must be delivered to management and governing bodies in a format that speaks to the type of information that was gathered as well as the culture of the organization itself. Generally, an evaluation report will include an executive summary, introduction, literature review, explanation of the data collection method, data analysis, conclusions, recommendations, and limitations of the study (Matthews, 2018). Ongoing, iterative evaluations allow libraries to be more informed about the value they provide to the communities they serve, and allow librarians to react to community needs and external forces that impact the delivery of services to address those needs.
Much of the coursework in the MLIS program at San Jose State University allowed opportunities to engage in an evaluation process and many of the courses provided instruction on how to construct and derive meaning from these evaluations. Professionally, I have been able to engage in different evaluation methods, using surveys, focus groups, observations, and research to build evaluations to inform decision making on programs and systems. Another value gained from these iterative evaluations are the insights from the trends that can be viewed over time.
I selected this assignment as an example of my mastery of this competency because in this project I identified the necessary criteria under which the different systems would be evaluated. The evaluation criterion, and the priority of each, were determined by a needs analysis. The evaluation data used was qualitative information gathered from the organizational needs and the information gathered from prospective vendors.
I am submitting this paper in support of this competency because it demonstrates my ability to conduct a criteria-driven evaluation of different reference sources. In this assignment, I explored five archive resource sites against the scope, experience, strengths, and weaknesses of each of those. I also examined how the measurement criteria might differ to different information communities.
I selected this assignment as evidence for this competency because in this presentation I evaluate the current document management strategies in place at an organization, in order to make a recommendation and project plan also delivered in the presentation. As part of the recommendation, criteria was established to determine when a phase could be considered complete, which could also serve as evaluation criteria for future evaluations of this program’s success.
I have learned about the importance of regular, iterative, criteria-led evaluations, and I will exercise that skill moving forward. Whether trying to gain an understanding of user adoption and change-management pain points, assessing the efficacy of a service, or determining organizational trends, evaluation design and delivery is an important skill for information professionals. Evaluation is a key point of delivering valuable programs and services for the communities served by information organizations.