The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) together announced in early September the next phase in Measures that Matter, a three-year-old collaboration that examines, evaluates, and maps public library data collection practices in the United States. This new project, funded by IMLS, will study potential relationships between public library activities and community outcomes to better inform the public library sector.
Measures that Matter was initiated in 2016 by COSLA with support from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program in response to growing interest from the public library sector about current and potential approaches to gathering and using data. One area is how to sharpen the public library sector’s abilities to use data in support of or to identify gaps in, the ways that services, programs, and collections relate to communities’ needs and emergent opportunities.
With additional funding by the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, this new project includes a new evaluation component that will focus in on library activities relating to workforce development, a contributing factor to community wellbeing.
“To date, the Measures that Matter project has yielded fruitful work that identifies the purposes, rationale and methods that underpin the field’s desire to collect public library data,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, Director of IMLS. “An area that is ready to be investigated is explicitly linking public library activities to positive community outcomes. We, IMLS and COSLA, are pleased to continue our collaboration to ultimately benefit libraries of all sizes and locations.”
“Libraries across the U.S. offer services, training and information aimed at meeting the workforce needs in their communities," said Timothy Cherubini, Executive Director of COSLA. “The intention behind this pilot is to develop a meaningful approach to measurement of library-based workforce development activities and to assess whether this approach could be used to measure other library activities as they relate to different components of community wellbeing.”
This project will complement two flagship IMLS data collection and evaluation efforts, most notably the annual Public Libraries Survey and a new national study on museums, libraries, and social wellbeing. It also builds upon Measures that Matter’s previous findings and progress that include the establishment of the Public Library Data Alliance.