Gathering and using systematic evidence of public library service outcomes and of public perceptions of libraries to secure sustainability: the Global Libraries experience

STREATFIELD, David and MARKLESS, Sharon and COTTRILL, Julia (2015) Gathering and using systematic evidence of public library service outcomes and of public perceptions of libraries to secure sustainability: the Global Libraries experience. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 88 - Library Theory and Research with Statistics and Evaluation.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Gathering and using systematic evidence of public library service outcomes and of public perceptions of libraries to secure sustainability: the Global Libraries experience

This paper introduces the Global Libraries initiative (GL) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their focus on applying evidence of change, through a process of impact planning and assessment leading to advocacy. The authors describe the evolution of the GL approach to impact planning and assessment from the early stages of work with country grantees that focused primarily on performance measurement, through an increasing focus on assessing the impact of the program interventions on users and their lives, to the more recent work which has introduced a common impact measurement system (known as CIMS). They then describe the purpose and nature of CIMS and introduce the required and optional indicators across seven categories: digital inclusion, health, education, economic development, communication, culture & leisure, and government & governance. This part of the paper draws of the shared learning of the country teams engaged in the GL work and particularly the Impact Specialists who are an integral part of each of these teams. The authors then explain the reasons for commissioning a major Cross-Europe survey of 17 EU-countries that arose from discussions between the GL team and country-team members of the five Grantee countries which are part of the European Union. GL commissioned TNS (an international market survey organisation) to conduct a survey of perceptions of public libraries drawn from the general public, library users and users of public access computers in libraries, concentrating on questions that would provide evidence of whether there is scope for public libraries to enhance their role by offering services that are attuned to EU policies. Finally, some headline results of this survey are presented and the subsequent work on using the results in advocacy at the EU level, led by the Reading and Writing Foundation, is outlined.

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