Blogger Heather Acerro

Getting Logical

Late last year the Rochester Public Library (MN) administrative team worked with a consultant from Wilder Research to develop a logic model. I know what you are thinking: What is that and who even cares? But if you stay with me for a minute, maybe I can sell you on this wonderful tool for tracking outcomes.

Yes, outcomes! Those nebulous, seemingly impossible to track things that prove what the library does changes or benefits the community. It has felt in the past that it is best to leave tracking outcomes to the academics, but with a simple and straightforward logic model, even the smallest community library can get tracking.

A logic model is essentially  – everything that your organization is doing, everything that you want to know about how your organization is doing, and everything that you hope will change because of what your organization is doing –  all in one simple outline.

It starts with inputs – a list of the things that the library needs to do what it does, such as:  money, staff, and other resources.

Then it highlights the library’s “Activities”. We divided ours into four categories: Public Services; Events, Classes & Programs; Outreach; and Publicity & Marketing.

Next, the outputs align with activities and include– all of the things that we count to prove that people use our services, such as: door counts, programs numbers, library cards, etc.

Finally, outcomes are divided into three categories: short term (hours to weeks); intermediate (months to years); and long-term (years). These are the changes or benefits that we expect our services will provide for community members. While these seem intimidating, the great thing about this is, we only have to track the short-term outcomes (though we do have a few intermediate outcomes that we are tracking, associated with long term programming). The colored lines and arrows show the connections between the three levels of outcomes.

Click here to see what it looks like all together.  We have these printed on 11” x 17” paper for staff use, as well as poster sizes on display in our meeting rooms.

Once we had the logic model built, we were able to use it to create standard survey questions. Staff now pick from the question template to make sure we are gathering consistent data. Here are three questions from our current BookBike survey which collect data for short-term outcomes A, G, and H.

We are just getting started with collecting data from surveys and we are working to build a data wall where we can have the outcomes and the survey results on display.

All of this work ties directly to our Strategic Plan and our yearly Action Plans so that we are sure to stay focused on the work that we have promised the community that we would do.

One comment

  1. Carolyn Shaffer

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I love that it truly is something that even the smallest libraries can do!

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