200 public libraries are measuring their true impact through PLA’s Project Outcome

Thu, 12/03/2015


Samantha Lopez
Project Coordinator

CHICAGO – Since launching on June 26, the Public Library Association’s (PLA) Project Outcome has quickly met public library demand and desire for standardized performance measures by exceeding 200 library users in just six short months.

Project Outcome is dedicated to helping public libraries understand and share the true impact of essential library services and programs with simple survey instruments and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes. The surveys were designed and developed by the Performance Measurement Task Force comprised of library leaders, researchers, and data analysts. Project Outcome’s surveys, resources, training, and supportive online community provide public libraries with everything they need to apply their results and confidently advocate for their library's future.

To date, nearly 750 Project Outcome participants – ranging from U.S. and Canadian public library, state, researchers and other non-public library users – have registered for free online. Over 200 public libraries are currently using the Project Outcome survey tools and measuring the outcomes of at least one program or service within their library.

For the first time, public libraries, whether new to outcome measurement or advanced in data collection, have free access to an aggregated set of performance measurement data and analysis tools they can use to affect change within their communities and beyond. Over 4,000 surveys have been collected and aggregated within the Project Outcome Data Dashboards and library participants have already reported using their results to take action – from including results in board presentations to making programmatic changes to justifying funding requests.

Libraries are able to use outcome data to affect change both internally and externally. One Project Outcome user combined the available Project Outcome reports and Data Dashboard visualizations to present the outcome results to his library administration – “I used the survey summary report and the Data Dashboard printouts and both were popular among staff. The report on detailed responses was also very popular. Everyone really liked seeing the comparison of how our surveys are doing compared to the national and state averages. Reports like this, showing the comparisons, are really useful and will definitely be included in our next Library Board presentation.”

Individuals and public libraries interested in participating in Project Outcome may register for free at www.projectoutcome.org.

Generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has allowed PLA to accelerate and expand Project Outcome’s development and implementation. The Performance Measurement Task Force continues to build more advanced outcome measures for users to continue turning better data into better libraries.

The Public Library Association (PLA) is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or pla@ala.org.