Rochester Public Library representatives receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

How Rochester Public Library Made Our Logic Model Work for Us

9/2/18 by Audrey Betcher

Rochester Public Library’s core values include: Welcoming Environment, Intellectual Freedom, Access, Inclusivity, and Exceptional Library Service. Three primary objectives we are working toward to live those values are:

  1. Grow Literacy and Ability to Use Library and Information Resources
  2. Engage the Community
  3. Build Infrastructure to Meet Community Needs

As we explored how we would achieve these objectives, we wondered how we would know if we succeeded. So we began to search for a way to measure outcomes and impact. In April 2017, staff attended a training at Rochester Area Foundation provided by Wilder Research and the Bush Foundation on measurement. It was at this training that we fell in love with the idea of a logic model, which is an evaluation tool used to communicate an organization’s activities and the intended outcomes.

Using a logic model to align programs and services

Rochester Public Library (RPL) contracted with Wilder Research to work with our administrative team to create a logic model. RPL’s Strategic Plan, Action Plans, and Logic Model are now all aligned and used together to ensure uniform decisions and measurements. 

In addition to supporting governance, our logic model serves as a template for RPL staff who plan and implement activities, devise marketing strategies, determine indicators, and develop evaluation methods. By building a logic model for programs and projects that aligns with our overall logic model, we guarantee that there is a clear path to at least one of RPL’s eight short-term outcomes.

Award-winning program grew out of planning

A perfect example occurred during spring 2017, when RPL planned its summer reading program. By using the logic model, we created the award-winning Summer Playlist program to address goals in our strategic plan and four of our short-term outcomes. Through this program, people were encouraged to read, to meet and help their neighbors, try new activities, and create art. At the end of the summer, 4,042 youth and adults participated in Summer Playlist, a 52 percent increase over 2016. Of participants surveyed, 96 percent reported a positive experience, and 82 percent said they gained a new skill, learned a new fact, or tried something new. More importantly, program participants spent 123,568 hours reading or doing activities. This tremendous participation time exceeded the previous year by 125 percent.

Logic model helps measure success

We also use the logic model to determine how well a potential partnership opportunity fits within our goals. RPL is a vibrant library and we pride ourselves on responding to community needs, but we also have to balance this with our capacity. We now ask ourselves not only how an opportunity aligns with our strategic plan, but also how to measure success. Sometimes programs make us feel good because we believe we are tackling an important community issue, but that is not enough to show positive change. Now we make sure we have a plan right from the beginning to be able to articulate what success looks like and either make modifications or discontinue a program if we are not seeing results. 

With our logic model we are able to better tell our story and show our impact through data.

In May 2018, RPL was honored with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in large part due to our ability to report on outcomes identified in the logic model. Until we had the logic model, we were good at responding to community needs and telling anecdotes, but we did not have the data and the deeper personal stories to back up our incredible work with the community.

If you are interested in learning more, Audrey Betcher from Rochester Public Library and Nicole MartinRogers from Wilder Research will be presenting on evaluation and telling your library’s story to stakeholders at the Minnesota Library Association’s annual conference in St. Cloud on October 12, 2018.

Photo courtesy of Rochester Public Library. Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library director, and James Arnold, community member, receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

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