Congress requires The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to document results of grant activities each year to meet the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. IMLS has turned to a specific approach known as outcome-based evaluation (OBE) This system of measuring results replaces the question, "What activities did we carry out?" with the question "What changed as a result of our work?" A focus on measuring outcomes - the effect of an institution's activities and services on the people it serves - rather than on the services themselves (outputs) is an emerging keystone of library and museum programs. (IMLS, OBE Introduction)
IMLS defines outcomes as benefits to people: specifically, achievements or changes in skill, knowledge, attitude, behavior, condition, or life status for program participants ("visitors will know what architecture contributes to their environments," "participant literacy will improve"). Any project intended to create these kinds of benefits has outcome goals. Outcome-based evaluation, "OBE," is the measurement of results. It identifies observations that can credibly demonstrate change or desirable conditions ("increased quality of work in the annual science fair," "interest in family history," "ability to use information effectively"). It systematically collects information about these indicators, and uses that information to show the extent to which a program achieved its goals. (IMLS, OBE Basics)
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is working with IMLS-funded Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grantees to incorporate outcome-based evaluation into designated LSTA grant programs. To date, these programs are Information Literacy, On the Same Page, and Database Promotion and Training.
The following OBE training and resource materials are available for LSTA grantees and all libraries interested in learning more about this exciting method of program evaluation and assessment
- IMLS. Outcome Based Evaluation, Introduction and Resources
- So What? Using Outcome-Based Evaluation to Assess the Impact of Library Services. [MS Word] Rhea Joyce Rubin, Consultant to the MBLC, June 2004.
- Logic Model (blank)[MS Word]