Building a Public Library Impact Data Hub: a Global Libraries “Data Atlas” for Storytelling, Strategy Development, and Collaboration

SCHRAG, Tyler and MEFFORD, Chris and COTTRILL, Julia and PALEY, Jeremy (2015) Building a Public Library Impact Data Hub: a Global Libraries “Data Atlas” for Storytelling, Strategy Development, and Collaboration. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 88 - Library Theory and Research with Statistics and Evaluation.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1272
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Building a Public Library Impact Data Hub: a Global Libraries “Data Atlas” for Storytelling, Strategy Development, and Collaboration

The Global Libraries initiative (GL) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides access to information through technology in public libraries around the world — with an emphasis on national programs in developing and transitioning countries. The initiative’s multi-year grants fund efforts to understand local community needs, purchase computers and other equipment for libraries to help meet those needs, train library staff, and help libraries build public support for long-term funding. Building and sustaining public support increasingly requires public libraries to show evidence of their ability to contribute to development—not just through traditional performance indicators, but in measurable, user-focused outcomes like job skills developed, education attained, employment found, money saved, and livelihoods improved. In 2012-2013, GL grantees worked together to develop a Common Impact Measurement System (CIMS), which they now employ to quantify their individual and collective impact on public library users. Data collected through CIMS enables public libraries to expand their focus from the services they provide to the outcomes they help individuals and communities realize. The CIMS framework includes required and optional indicators across seven categories: Digital Inclusion, Health, Education, Economic Development, Communication, Culture & Leisure, and Government & Governance. In 2014 Global Libraries worked with a data management and software development firm, Community Attributes Inc., to build an innovative, dynamic online results reporting and visualization system for the data that grantees collected, called the Data Atlas. This new website presents public library data in an interactive way, giving the Global Libraries initiative and grantees insight into dynamic results as they are reported. The paper will describe how the Data Atlas was designed specifically for use in global advocacy before concluding with a vision for how the Atlas could become a valuable impact data hub for public libraries – and the institutions that support them – beyond the confines of this cohort of foundation grantees.

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