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What It Is
Project Outcome is a FREE online toolkit designed to help libraries understand and share the impact of essential library programs and services by providing simple surveys and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes. Participating libraries are also provided with the resources and training support needed to apply their results and confidently advocate for their library's future. Project Outcome’s standardized surveys allow libraries to aggregate their outcome data and analyze trends by service topic, program type, and over time. For the first time, academic libraries can see how the outcomes of their programs and services compare across their institution, Carnegie Class, and nation.
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
, a division of the American Library Association, is dedicated to supporting academic libraries in assessing their performance with outcomes data. While many libraries collect data about their programs and services, what is often lacking are the data to indicate the benefits libraries provide to students and institutional goals. Measuring outcomes can provide libraries with new ways to demonstrate their effectiveness beyond gate counts and anecdotal success stories. Created by library leaders, researchers, and data analysts, and based on a model developed by the Public Library Association (PLA), Project Outcome for Academic Libraries is designed to give libraries simple tools and supportive resources to help turn better data into better libraries.
The Project Outcome surveys and toolkit are currently available to all academic libraries, independent research libraries, and library school students. Registrants that do not fall under these categories will still have access to the outcome measurement resources. For more information about the types of user accounts, visit this page
To start measuring the impact of your library, register
for Project Outcome for Academic Libraries for free today!
Join the Project Outcome conversation on Facebook
@ProjectOutcome, and our Peer Discussion Board
! If you are interested in hands-on training and are involved in planning a conference or event as part of a consortium or association, contact us to schedule a workshop.
How It Works
Project Outcome provides libraries with FREE access to quick and simple patron surveys, an easy-to-use survey management tool to collect their outcomes, custom reports and interactive data dashboards for analyzing the data, and various resources to help move libraries from implementing surveys to taking action using the results. Libraries are encouraged to use their data to support and promote future action – from allocating resources more efficiently, to advocating new resources more effectively, to providing support for future library funding, activity reports, and strategic planning. For the first time, academic libraries, whether they are new to outcome measurement or advanced in data collection, have free access to standardized outcome surveys and data analysis tools they can use to effect change within their institutions and beyond.
The Project Outcome for Academic Libraries surveys helps libraries measure outcomes and assess their impact in seven key service areas:
Project Outcome helps libraries easily measure their patron outcomes, which are one piece of the assessment puzzle. Measuring outcomes helps libraries understand the specific benefits that result from their services or programs. Outcomes can be quantitative or qualitative, and are often expressed as changes that individuals perceive in themselves. They answer the question: “What good did we do?”
Project Outcome provides these tools for libraries to measure their patron outcomes:
The Project Outcome Immediate Surveys are six questions long, and include both Likert-scale and open-ended questions. The Immediate Surveys are designed to be distributed immediately after a program or service is completed and aim to help libraries better understand the immediate impact a program or service has on patrons and their intention to change behavior as a result. The Immediate Surveys are ideal for assessing the immediate impact of a program or service, informing program or service changes, and providing a "snapshot" for advocacy and reporting.
The Project Outcome Follow-Up Surveys vary in length and follow a Yes/No/Please Explain format. The Follow-Up Surveys are designed to be used 4-8 weeks after a program or service is completed and aim to help libraries better understand if patrons have changed their behavior or continued to benefit as a result of the program or service. The Follow-Up Surveys are ideal for assessing the impact of a program or service after some period of time, informing internal planning, measuring progress toward strategic goals, and providing evidence for advocacy.
The Outcome Measurement Guidelines are designed to help libraries conduct advanced methods of outcome measurement and demonstrate long-term, collaborative impact on the community.
The toolkit includes:
- A survey management tool where libraries can create and customize their surveys, enter and track responses, and download their raw data.
- Ready-made and customizable reports that make it easy for libraries to share their results and advocate for their programs and services.
- Interactive data dashboards that help libraries analyze their results.
- A variety of training resources, including outcome measurement guidelines, best practices, case studies, and more.
Project Outcome was first developed by the Performance Measurement Task Force of the Public Library Association
(PLA). After collecting outcome data from 2013 PLDS survey responses and conducting pilot tests in 27 libraries in late 2014, the Task Force identified the seven essential library service areas for Project Outcome to assess that could be easily and directly linked to improving or changing a patron's knowledge, application, confidence, and awareness. PLA launched the Project Outcome Immediate Surveys and online toolkit on June 26, 2015. PLA's Follow-Up Surveys were released to the public on June 24, 2016 at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. The work of the Task Force caught the eye of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
. Their generous funding support has enabled PLA to accelerate and expand the reach of Project Outcome.
PLA noticed a strong interest in the Project Outcome assessment tools from academic libraries and approached ACRL in 2017. The ACRL Board voted to appoint a the Project Outcome for Academic Libraries Task Force in November 2017 and charged it with adapting Project Outcome to an academic library context. The task force decided on seven academic library service areas and 54 institutions engaged in field-testing the new surveys between June and October 2018. The Project Outcome for Academic Libraries toolkit launches at the ACRL conference in Cleveland in April 2019.
Community Attributes provides research and analysis to increase awareness, inform decisions, and improve results for their clients and the communities they serve. They tell data-rich stories about communities that are important to decision makers.
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world.