STEP 4. Using What You Find
In this step, we guide librarians through the following applications to help to maximize use of their findings:
- Accountability and long-term assessment
- Improved services and/or programs
- Resource (re)allocation
The product of Step 3: Analyzing Data (3.), the outcomes set, is a treasure trove of information that captures your library's/program's contribution to participants and the life of the community. Throughout the process, you examined the contextual factors that give rise to outcomes - the library and its service model and activities, the clientele and staff contributions -- to achieve not only evidence of impact, but also, and as important, valuable intelligence from customers and staff about the nature and the results of the library's service(s).
Step 4: Maximizing Results encourages librarians to digest this intelligence and to apply lessons learned as strategically as possible. After all, outcomes evaluation stands as an key investment opportunity for the institution from which to reap the range of benefits discussed in our introduction, including improved marketing, accountability, enhanced services and/or program, and resource (re)allocation.
Whereas Steps 1-3 were designed to guide you through the outcomes evaluation process, Step 4 helps you leverage your findings for external and internal review. In outcomes you find core messages about the library - what it does right and where it can make improvements -- that can verify and/or inform librarians' predictions and intuition and do the same for the community they serve. The outcomes set derived through outcome-based evaluation encapsulates knowledge of the positive and negative impacts the library makes on community life, which may differ or corroborate the kinds of impact(s) expected by library management and staff. Outcomes will equip you to step outside the library with marketing programs or campaigns for a wide range of stakeholders. At the same time, you can take outcomes intelligence back to the planning table to ponder "What does this say about the service?" Did our strategies and activities achieve our goals or not? Did we produce benefits we did not intend to? How did we do it? How can we do it better?"