Assessment Plans

I would like to make two observations or notes about the following outcomes and their assessment. The first is my concern about the observation methods chosen for many of the outcomes. Since the library does not collect demographic information on its library card application, there is not a ready-made batch of statistics on the number of Latino library users. Or an existing records solution available by user group. (We can look at Spanish language materials circulation, but not Spanish-speaking library cardholders as a group.)

As such, we must do some of our observation and data collection by sight. This is a possibly dangerous area, in that I do not want to imply that we are judging people by the color of their skin. So, when observation of lobby traffic or reference desk questions is assessed by observation, it is with the assumption that it will not be entirely accurate. Some library users may look Latino, but are not. Others are Latino, but do not look like an individual library staff member’s image of a Latino person. The observations are made casually and generally. As Rubin noted, “Outcome measurement is not scientific research and requires descriptive analysis, not statistical analysis” (61). I want to make sure to be sensitive to cultural stereotyping issues, but also believe that observation is a valuable tool in these situations.

The second note is about the indicator targets and quantity measurements in the outcomes. I have not attached specific quantity targets to most of these outcomes. Rubin cautioned, “Targets must be based upon experience. So a new program – or a library new to outcome measurement – should not set a target until the first year (or cycle) of the program activity, and the data collection and analysis are complete” (39).

In the few outcomes that have quantity targets, they are low. And the timeline for initial data collection for most of the outcomes is October 2008 to October 2009. This will provide the baseline data for the following four years of the strategy.