[kids-lib] Just released: Oregon Public Library Needs Assessment--implications for youth services

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Thu Sep 10 16:01:07 PDT 2015

Hi! The Oregon Community Foundation contracted with Penny Hummel to do a statewide needs assessment of public libraries and make recommendations on how they and other foundations might better support Oregon public libraries. At the bottom of this email is the email Penny sent out on the libs-or listserv and attached is the full report. The State Librarian also sent this to all public library directors.

Here are some of the key findings that pertain to youth services and the Ready to Read grant’s use of outcome based evaluation.

·         Asked to rank the priority of eight library roles and the extent to which the library is successful in ful­filling them, library directors gave top rankings to Encouraging Reading and Early Childhood Literacy.

·         In order to enhance early childhood learning, pub­lic libraries approach services for young children holistically and comprehensively, engaging not just the child, but also the people and systems that are invested in the child’s well-being.

·         Interviews with library early literacy specialists and leaders in Oregon’s early childhood system indi­cate that the most significant contributions of public libraries to early childhood education stem from their expertise in early literacy: providing direct ser­vice to children and their caregivers, and providing early literacy training to other service providers.

·         The main obstacle public libraries face in enhancing the early childhood system is a lack of staff capacity.

·         Having traditionally focused on measuring inputs… and outputs…, public libraries are now including outcome-based evaluation in their ongoing efforts. At the national level, the Public Library Association is currently testing seven core performance measures at U.S. public libraries. In addition, current research aims to gather empirical evidence of the positive impact that programs such as storytimes and sum­mer reading have on children.

Here are the recommendations to funders, like the Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust, interested in supporting Oregon’s public libraries:

·         Focusing support on particular areas of frequently expressed need, such as technology, collection development or community outreach

·         Targeting support to encourage library innovation

·         Targeting support to help the neediest libraries

·         Providing proportionate grant support to all Oregon libraries [e.g. the Ready to Read grant’s funding model]

·         Engaging Oregon libraries through a centrally managed statewide project.

What does this mean?

·         There may be different and/or better local grant opportunities designed to meet the specific needs of Oregon libraries.

·         Funders have a better understanding of the obstacles library face and may make changes to improve the grants that libraries are eligible to apply for.

·         Early childhood literacy, encouraging reading, and outcome based evaluation is important to funders, libraries, and communities.


Katie Anderson, Youth Services Consultant
Library Support and Development Services<http://www.oregon.gov/osl/LD/pages/index.aspx>
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528
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From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Penny Hummel
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2015 6:29 AM
To: (libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us)
Subject: [Libs-Or] Just released: Oregon Public Library Needs Assessment

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the very first Oregon Public Library Needs Assessment has just been released.  It is attached, but you can also download it from The Oregon Community Foundation’s website<http://www.oregoncf.org/news-resources/news-publications> or from my company website<http://www.pennyhummel.com/projects>.

First off, I want to thank the Oregon library community for your enthusiastic participation in the data gathering for this project, which included:

·         51 participants at eight focus groups around the state

·         86 of Oregon’s 131 public libraries (66%) participating in the survey--a tremendous response rate!

·         68 additional survey responses from Friends, Foundation and library board members

·         18 interviews, providing regional and national perspectives

·         Innumerable instances of sharing insights, resources and support, as well as helping to promote the project.

Truly, it took a village!  My sincere thanks to all of you who have helped me make this project the very best it could be.

I also want to thank The Oregon Community Foundation for commissioning this study, as well as the Lora L. & Martin N. Kelley Family Foundation Trust and the Betsy Priddy Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation for their support of this work.

Earlier this week, OCF hosted a summit with other Oregon funders, where the overview I provided of the needs assessment’s findings was enthusiastically received.  It is safe to say there is great interest in exploring new ways to support public libraries in Oregon, and that the needs assessment is viewed as a starting point to that effort.  Stay tuned for future developments!

As those who participated in the research may recall, in the needs assessment we explored how public libraries create resilient communities through the lens of eight different library roles.  My friends at The Oregon Community Foundation would like me to emphasize that OCF’s competitive grant program supports each of these eight library roles, and to encourage public libraries to review their guidelines to consider how they might support your important work. Here are some links to more information about the opportunities that OCF provides:

·         OCF Community Grant Program<http://www.oregoncf.org/grants-scholarships/grants/community-grants>

·         Developing a strong proposal<http://www.oregoncf.org/Templates/media/files/grants/community_grants/developing_strong_proposal_2014.pdf>

·         Capacity building proposals to  the Community Grant Program<http://www.oregoncf.org/Templates/media/files/grants/community_grants/capacity_building_guidelines.pdf>

Again, my heartfelt thanks to the Oregon library community for understanding the importance of this project and making it a success.

Penny Hummel
Penny Hummel Consulting

penny at pennyhummel.com<mailto:penny at pennyhummel.com>

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