Written by Heidi Andres a Teen Services Librarian with Cuyahoga County Public Library in Northeast Ohio. She received outcome measurement training as a fellow in the Treu-Mart Youth Development Fellowship Program of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
As a librarian involved in the implementation of youth program outcome measures, I was extremely interested in Johannah Genett’s article, “Measuring Outcomes for Teen Technology Programs,” in the Fall 2014 issue of YALS. Reading this article, I was eager to see how another library system (Hennepin County Library) collects outcome measures for youth programs in comparison to my organization, Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL).
In the fall of 2012, Cuyahoga County Public Library formed a youth planning team with the mission of creating outcome measures for youth programming across our 27 branches. This team was comprised of CCPL administrative youth staff, three Teen Services librarians, including myself, one Children’s Services librarian, and representatives from an outside youth development organization. Although the three teen staff members had received outcome measurement instruction, learning outcome measurement theory and actually creating and applying the tools proved to be two very different sides of the same coin. Constructing outcomes, indicators, and measurement tools was an eye-opening experience, one which enabled the team to closely examine the library system’s youth programming priorities and goals. The process focused on answering some vital questions: Why do we do what we do? What are our programming strengths, and where can we improve? What kind of impact do we want to have on the young people we serve, and how do we achieve this through the programs we offer? It was our hope that measuring outcomes would not only give us answers to these queries, but also provide staff with insight they could use to develop future youth programs with outcomes in mind.