I encourage all of you to check out the ALSC Emerging Leaders report (Ask, Assess, Advocate:Demonstrating the Value of Youth Services) which articulates an important question for us. How do we accurately assess the value of children’s services in libraries?
Many of us must justify our services to our communities and stakeholders when we secure our budgets, write grants or report to City Hall and very often we are asked for more than numbers. This is good news. We know we are more than the sum of our parts. Numbers, outputs, only tell part of the story. The real value we have is in our impact in the lives of our families we serve.
We all have stories of this impact. These are the moments we hold dear: watching our customers grow from preschool storytime participant to confident young reader to successful student. In research, this ability to change behavior and influence future behavior is called an outcome. Outputs are what we do but outcomes are the reasons why we do what we do.
Our most recent Community Forum tackled this issue. How do we accurately access our “value”? Is our valued shaped by our communities? Is there a model of valuation that makes sense for us to adopt? It was a rich discussion and it is clear that many of us struggle to define our value. We all know that proving our worth, defining the outcomes we hope to achieve and then showing we achieve them, is critical to our success and future. I urge you to experience the discussion in the archives and to join in the discussion. We are counting on you.