As project Principal Investigators, we would like to extend our thanks to those who participated in the research that forms the basis for this set context-centered approaches to determining the outcomes of community-focused library services. "How Libraries and Librarians Help: Outcome-Based Evaluation Toolkit," the culmination of the work and collaboration of a number of individuals and organizations, would not have been possible without the funding support and leadership of the Institute of Museum and Library Services to which we extend a special thanks. IMLS as an agency has provided leadership in helping librarians think about and answer the important question: What are the impacts of libraries and librarians in their communities? IMLS has taken a number of steps to assure that librarians are able to determine the "benefits to people: specifically, achievements or changes in skill, knowledge, attitude, behavior, condition, or life status for program participants" including funding research projects such as ours, developing web and print resources, fostering and conducting training, and encouraging the involvement by librarians in determining the outcomes of their own services. http://www.imls.gov/grants/current/crnt_bib.htm
"How Libraries and Librarians Help" is in many ways a collaborative project. We received strong support from our parent organizations, the School of Information at the University of Michigan and the Information School at the University of Washington that enabled us to focus on the research at hand. The approaches that our two Schools take toward student learning also permitted us engage a variety of students in this project through coursework, independent studies, and additional RAs. We were blessed with extremely talented research assistants (RAs) at UM and UW who made strong contributions to the research that led up to the toolkit and the toolkit itself. Our research staff, whose brief bios are found on the project website, include doctoral student Kent Unruh (University of Washington) and UM Master's students Christopher Hamilton, Erica Olsen, and Marian Bouch as well as UW master's students Bryn Martin, Nicolette Sosulski, and Michael Pruzan. Project RAs, among other things, worked closely with collaborating libraries, they helped us design the data collection instruments, collect the data, analyze and write up the results and they made strong contributions to content development. They designed, created and maintain both the project website and the toolkit. The collaborating libraries, Austin Public Library, Flint Public Library, Peninsula Library System, King County Library System, Yakima Valley Regional Library system, and Queens Borough Public Library, were essential to the project because they made it possible for us to conduct intensive case studies of a variety of services that led to identifying candidate outcomes and testing a variety of data collection instruments. The visits that resulted in our case study data put pressure on these libraries to provide us with a great deal of background information, incorporate our several day visits into their busy schedules, agree to have participants in their programs interviewed, provide us information about partner community organizations and provide other assistance in our research. Without exception they provided us with sterling hospitality, often including gracious hosting and cheerfully providing "taxi" services as we made contacts throughout their service areas. Site libraries and communities include:
- Queens Borough Public Library (NY)
- Peninsula Library Systems (CA)
- King County Library System (WA)
- Yakima Valley Regional Library System (WA)
- Flint Public Library (MI)
- Austin Public Library System (TX)
We would like to thank our project Advisory Committee who are leaders in public librarianship, Carolyn Anthony - Director, Skokie Public Library; Nancy Busch - Deputy Nebraska State Librarian; Gloria Coles - Director, Flint Public Library, MI; Mary Jo Lynch - ALA Office for Research; Peggy Rudd - Texas State Librarian; Gary Strong - Director, Queens Public Library.
Finally, we would like to thank those library staff who have worked with us in the testing phase of the Toolkit and who, in addition, attended and provided us with feedback on our initial workshop.
Joan C. Durrance
School of Information
University of Michigan
Karen E. Fisher,
University of Washington