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Research and Assessment Cycle Toolkit

The Research and Assessment Cycle Toolkit is a resource for library assessment practitioners to access information about assessment processes in libraries. The Toolkit includes 23 training videos and supporting materials that:

  • Review the principles and practices of library assessment;
  • Enable library workers to develop the skills necessary to assess library programs, services, resources, and spaces;
  • Support the launch of assessment projects from the development of the research question through to the conclusion, including action on findings;
  • Are modular, accessible to newcomers to library assessment, and easy to follow;
  • Can be self-paced or used as training materials for collaborative efforts; and
  • Are supportive of a community of learning.

The toolkit is not intended to be comprehensive and covers information that can be used by library workers at all levels of assessment experience.

A team of library assessment experts led by Megan Oakleaf (Syracuse University) and supported by Emily Daly (Duke University) and Becky Croxton (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) developed the training modules. ARL staff, Kevin Borden, Angela Pappalardo, and Anam Mian also contributed to the project.

Toolkit Training Modules

    1. Overview
    2. Identify
    3. Articulate
    4. Collect
    5. Organize and Analyze
    6. Act

 


1. Overview

This video provides an overview for the modules to follow, defines basic terms, and introduces the assessment cycle for library assessment projects.

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2. Identify

This module focuses on identifying the needs, context, and goals of library assessment projects.

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Discovering What You Need to Know

This video describes motivations for library assessment projects including responding to imposed questions, connecting values and practices, responding to changing trends, reallocating resources, closing gaps, better understanding users, and aligning strategic priorities.

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Example from the RLIF Project:

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Articulating Why You Need to Know It

This video describes key purposes and timeframes for library assessment and identifies possible obstacles to effective assessment.

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Anticipating How Knowing Will Lead to Action

This video describes strategies for beginning library assessment projects “with the end in mind” to increase the likelihood of actionable results that lead to positive outcomes and impact. 

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3. Articulate

This module focuses on articulating the focus of a library assessment project.

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Identifying Research Questions

This video describes strategies for structuring research questions for library assessment projects.

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Examples from the RLIF Project:

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Constructing User Stories

This video describes strategies for structuring user stories for library assessment projects.

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Composing Hypotheses

This video describes strategies for structuring hypotheses for library assessment projects.

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4. Collect

This module focuses on collecting data, evidence, input, or other information for library assessment projects.

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Identifying Potential Data, Evidence, and/or Input

This video describes strategies for identifying possible data, evidence, or other inputs needed for library assessment projects, including existing information, information found in professional literature, and new information that must be collected for the project at hand.

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Considering Your (Methods) Options

This video describes a variety of methods that can be used to collect information for library assessment projects. 

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Examples from the RLIF Project:

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Considering Your Sample

This video describes populations and sampling for library assessment projects including sample sizes and types.

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Conducting Interviews

This video describes interview methods for library assessment projects including interview types, preparation, and question strategies.

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Conducting Focus Groups

This video describes focus group methods for library assessment projects including focus group structures and preparation.

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Conducting Participatory Research

This video describes participatory research methods, including examples of community-based participatory research and user-centered design research. It covers techniques for conducting card sorts and PhotoVoice studies as well as tips for analyzing findings.

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Conducting Observational Research

This video describes observational research methods, including techniques for conducting online and in-person observations and analyzing findings from this type of study. 

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Conducting Surveys

This video describes survey methods for library assessment projects including question types and overall design.

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5. Organize and Analyze

This module focuses on organizing and analyzing data, evidence, input, or other information for library assessment projects.

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Cleaning and Organizing Quantitative Data

This video describes how to clean and organize your raw dataset so that it will be ready for analysis and visualization.

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Analyzing Quantitative Data

This video describes common strategies for analyzing quantitative data, particularly descriptive statistics, using Excel and Google Sheets.

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Using Excel and Google Sheets to Visualize Data

This video describes and demonstrates how to create charts and graphs using Excel and Google Sheets and includes a discussion of matching chart types to data. 

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Using Tableau to Visualize Data

This video provides a basic overview of Tableau, what it is and how it can help explore trends and nuances in a dataset and includes a demonstration of how to connect data, create simple visualizations with filters, and then combine visualizations into interactive dashboards that can be shared with others. 

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6. Act

This module focuses on reflecting, communicating, and acting on the results of library assessment projects.

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Reflecting on Results

This video describes practices for reflecting on the results of library assessment projects.

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Communicating Results: Identifying Audiences & Messages

This video describes strategies for identifying audiences and crafting messages to communicate results of library assessment projects.

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Communicating Results: Sharing Results with Stakeholders

This video describes purposes of and techniques for communicating the results of library assessment projects to stakeholders.

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Realizing Outcomes of Assessment: Decision-Making and Action Taking

This video describes possible outcomes of the overall assessment process.

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IMLS logoThis project (LG-18-19-0092) was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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