Tag Archives: outreach

Director’s Thoughts #13 – Program Evaluation

24 Aug


I’m finalizing our strategic plan that will begin officially in January and our next project to take on is program and service evaluation. It’s definitely a time-intensive, difficult project because people feel strongly about programs and services, what we should keep, what we should get rid of, what we need, what we want, etc.

I’m going to focus on programs right now as I haven’t even begun to think about evaluating the many services we offer. My goal is to first look at a program evaluation model. I want to gather information from the employee creating, planning and presenting the program as well as gather information from the public. My goal is to answer a few questions:

  • Why are we offering this program?
  • How does this program benefit the community?
  • Is this the right time of year to offer this program?
  • Does this program take up too much staff time?
  • What is the ROI for this program?
  • Does this program need to be repeated regularly?
  • Where are there gaps in our program offerings (specific time periods, groups of people, types of programs)?

To answer these questions, I’m working on some sort of evaluation form to write down any input information – time, cost of supplies, staffing, how often it happens, etc. Next, is the output – how many attendees. And finally, outcomes – skills/knowledge developed and social aspect (how is this affecting the community).

I also need to start working on a simple, but effective tool to gather information from program attendees – a short survey that helps us understand what the community is looking for and whether or not a particular program reached it’s intended outcomes.

As I said, this is not for the faint of heart, but I want my staff to free themselves from tired programs that are only happening because we’ve always offered it, to be able to jump on new trends and try exciting new programs (without it meaning it becomes a regularly scheduled program all the time). It won’t be an easy project, but it’s the next step toward moving us into the future!


Early Literacy At Its Finest

6 Jul

There’s a great article on the School Library Journal’s website about the positive effects of storytime on young children. Storytime began in the late 1800s and has changed drastically over the years from a time when children were expected to sit quietly and listen to an adult read books to today’s version of storytime that includes a wide variety of actions, senses, books, songs, dances and more.

I don’t think any librarian out there would argue that storytime is unhelpful to children, but there have been few studies to show the actual effects storytime has on PreK children. I think children’s librarians are also hesitant to say they are experts in the field as many don’t have a child development background and feel uncomfortable telling parents what they should be doing at home. New studies show that being intentional at storytime about early literacy skills makes a difference. Honestly, many of the early literacy skills I’ve shared with parents and caregivers in the past are things they already do, I just give it a name and explain why it’s so important.

I found this article to a fascinating read and really enjoyed learning more about research being done in the public library field. I’d love to see more research focused not only on early literacy, but on public libraries in general. We do far more good than people realize and we need to make ourselves known.

In My Own Backyard…

21 Jun

I saw this article circulating on Facebook just a couple of days ago and was really excited to share with my blogging community. Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse made waves in 2015 when Ariell Johnson became the first African-American woman to open a comic book store on the East Coast. And Johnson’s making waves again with a $50,000 Knight Foundation grant awarded to the store to create Amalagm University a place “where hopeful writers and illustrators can take classes on drawing, writing, pitching and publishing.”

Johnson not only stocks the usuals in her comic book shop, but also focuses on providing a wide variety of materials including diverse authors and illustrators as well as material provided by independent authors. Johnson wants to be able to provide upcoming authors and illustrators access to education that they may not be able to afford otherwise.

What’s more? Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is in Philadelphia – my own backyard! I’m not a HUGE comic book fan, but I’m definitely going to make a trip to North Philly to check out this store and grab some comics for myself!

Sensory Storytime Theme: Sheep

8 Oct

Sensory Friendly Storytime Theme- (1)I’ve talked about my outreach storytimes before on my blog and if you’re looking for other lesson plans, hover over get IDEAS and click on Sensory Friendly Storytimes.  This month for outreach I focused on sheep… for no particular reason, except there are some really cute sheep books available!

For this group of kids, I end up seeing eight classrooms that are combined into four storytimes with a range of ages and disabilities.  And the group changes throughout the year and since I only get a chance to see them three times during the school year, it can be an almost new group each time making planning somewhat difficult.  But, over the years I’ve done this I’ve learned a lot about what grabs kids’ attention.  Puppets usually work really well (for most kids) and a lot of kids love sing-along books.  So this time around I took out a little fingerpuppet named Scorch (he’s a dragon!) and the kids did a great job being gentle with him.  We then read a few stories, played Peekaboo (farm) on my iPad (which the kids absolutely love!), sang along to Mary Had a Little Lamb (skipping verses along the way) and did a flannelboard of It Looked Like Spilt Milk.  The kids overall did really well and some of them definitely expressed their interest in certain books.  So overall, I think it was a big success!

Opening: Open, Shut Them

Puppet Meet & Greet: Scorch (dragon)

Book 1: Time to Sleep Sheep the Sheep by Mo Willems / Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton

App: Peekaboo (Farm)

Book 2: Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

Song: Mary Had a Little Lamb by Mary Ann Hoberman

Book 3: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw (flannelboard)

Closing: The Wheels on the Bus

Middle School Open House

18 Sep

Last night, I took my cart of materials and set up a table at the middle school with the school librarian for Open House.  We have four elementary school, a middle school and high school and a K-8 Catholic school in our service area and are always looking for ways to partner with the schools.  We especially thought it was important to stop by the middle school this year as there is a new superintendent for the school district as well as a new principal and vice principal at the middle school.  We wanted to show the administration that we value our partnership and are there to help.

Overall, the evening was fairly well attended, but because there is so much the parents need to do that evening – meet with teachers, set up online accounts to view grades, buy gym uniforms, etc.  We rarely had people stop at our table, except to ask for directions or for other information.  We started joking with parents that as librarians it’s our job to provide them with a well-researched and correct answer.  And we could usually do that!  I figure a positive interaction is better than no interaction!

Most of the people who stopped at our table (who didn’t need directions) were families who I see on a regular basis in the library, stopping to say hello – which is great, but my main goal for being there is to get to those families who aren’t familiar with our resources.  The middle school students do receive iPads for class instruction and homework and the librarians encourage all the students to get their library cards to partake in OverDrive to read e-books.  This has definitely helped and having September be library card sign-up month as well is a nice draw.

But even last night I had a dad ask how much it cost for a library card!  This breaks my heart, it means we have people in our community who don’t know how awesome our library is, how many amazing programs we offer for all ages, and how many resources they can use for recreation and education.  I believe this issue is two-fold.  On the one hand, we clearly need to be creating more marketing toward people in our community who are not familiar with our library, which means finding where these people live, work and play and reach out to them in these places.  On the other hand, we have a number of community members who move here from other countries where a public library is not the same thing as it is here.  So again, we need to educate people on what a public library is and what it can do for them.  We’ve got a lot of work to do!

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