Project update: Public Libraries Evaluation Network

Project update: Public Libraries Evaluation Network

In 2019, Culture Counts launched the Public Libraries Evaluation Network, inviting libraries that use Culture Counts online survey platform to participate in a nation-wide data collection initiative to better understand and illustrate how libraries generate vital outcomes for their communities.

The project aimed to help public libraries:

  • Identify the best tools for capturing and analysing feedback from the community
  • Measure, understand and articulate their unique value
  • Benchmark their organisation nationally, with standardised and nation-wide library outcome metrics

With collective feedback from Public Libraries Australia and the participating libraries, Culture Counts has developed two evaluation tools to help realise the aims of the project – a library-specific online survey template and big data dashboard.

Stage 1: collection of data using library-specific survey templates

Using Culture Counts online survey platform, a series of outcome-based templates were created. Features include:

  • User-friendly online survey builder
  • Pre-designed survey templates with core set of outcome metrics and standardised questions
  • Ability to distribute surveys online, in-person or via kiosk
  • Ability to export results in PDF or CSV

Allowing for better nation-wide benchmarking, the survey template standardised metrics and questions are aligned with the following:

  • Contains a selection of outcome metrics across a range of areas including digital learning, community engagement and business skills
  • Outcome Measure for Australian Public Libraries research (ALIA, APLA, NSLA)
  • ILFA generic learning and social outcomes
  • Civic/Community Engagement; Digital Learning; Early Childhood Literacy; Economic/Business Development; Education/Lifelong Learning; Job Skills; and Reading/Literacy outcomes

Stage 2: creation of the Public Libraries Evaluation Network big data dashboard

Fast track to 2020, and we’ve collected the participating public libraries data – to create a Public Libraries Evaluation Network Dashboard! 

The dashboard provides an opportunity for participating libraries to:

  • See their collective data in a visually striking way
  • Identify trends, gaps and opportunities
  • Track performance changes over time, and benchmark against other libraries
  • Ability to compare scores to see impact of best practise operations and learn from innovations in other states or regions

The big data dashboard is designed to help give context to the data collected across the network. Insights include (but not limited to):

  • Library usage
  • Library program attendance
  • Respondent demographics
  • Qualitative outcomes for: Community Engagement, Stronger and Creative Communities, Digital Inclusion, Literacy and Lifelong Learning, Economic and Workforce Development, Personal Development and Wellbeing
  • Library Engagement outcomes for: Reading/Literacy, Education/Lifelong Learning, Civic/Community Engagement, Digital Learning, Early Childhood Literacy, Job Skills and Economic/Business Development

The first version of the dashboard included 8 libraries across the nation that already collected and shared data as part of this project. Respondents in the overall sample gave the highest scores to ‘Role of the Library’ – “The Library is an important part of the place where I live” and ‘Safe and Trusted’ – “I feel safe and welcome when using the library service”. There were many more interesting insights, and we will be exploring more as the project progresses.

Want to get involved?

We are calling out for public libraries across Australia to be a part of this exciting project. Participating in the Public Libraries Evaluation Network gives you the opportunity to:

  • Help shape library-specific evaluation solutions
  • Opportunity to help create a product specifically designed to suit public libraries
  • Be a part of community – share ideas, insights and learnings with our exclusive Slack channel
  • Access to online webinars, tutorials and tips and tricks
  • Cost includes purchase of Culture Counts online survey platform subscription and project fee

To register your interest – complete the enquiry form and we will be in touch!

About the author
Culture Counts provides evaluation solutions designed to help you identify, measure and report your impact.