Why Present Outcomes-Based Summer Reading Programs
An outcomes-based approach to summer reading helps you demonstrate how valuable your summer reading programs are and the impact that your programs have on the community.
We know that:
- public library summer reading programs encourage, challenge, and enable kids and adults to read during the summer;
- libraries present high-quality and valuable¹ summer reading programs that, year after year, are very popular in the community; and
- summer reading programs can help prevent summer learning loss¹ in children and teens.
Outcomes-based programs help you show that summer reading programs have a measurable impact on participants. By tailoring your program to California's statewide outcomes you will be able to show how your summer reading participants feel part of a community of readers and library users, and how your summer reading program engages previously-underserved community members and enables them to obtain the benefits of participating in summer reading. These data are richer, more effective, and will have greater impact than your participation statistics alone.
Outcomes-based summer reading also helps you develop cost-effective programs that are tailored and meaningful to your community, and helps build capacity in the library:
- Outcome-based results tell the stories behind your summer reading statistics. You know how many people sign up and complete your summer reading program. An outcome-based approach will show the impact and effect of your program and give you information for a great “how we did it good” story to tell the media, elected officials, and other stakeholders. This stories are particularly important when the library is competing for funds to support its programs.
- Outcome-based programs are relevant to the community. Programs that are intentionally designed to achieve measurable outcomes are more likely to achieve results that are relevant to the community.
- Many funding agencies require outcome evaluation. In these tough economic times, libraries that can demonstrate that their programs contribute to positive outcomes in the community have a competitive edge when looking for funding.
- Outcome-based programming builds capacity in your library. Staff who are skilled in outcome-based evaluation will develop more relevant and engaging programs and will be better equipped to apply for program funding.
- Setting outcomes for your summer reading program is cost-effective. By setting meaningful outcomes for your summer reading program, you can focus staff time and resources on developing programs that will achieve those outcomes. As a result, outcomes-based summer reading programs are well-suited to times when library budgets and resources are tight. They ensure that staff are engaged in the most meaningful and impactful activities.
- Outcome-based results can improve management decision-making. Results can be used to modify and improve programs that don’t meet expectations. Learning that a program has met or exceeded your outcome targets may help you transfer those good practices to other services.
¹For information on the value of library summer reading programs, please see /?page=78
¹The White House's Let’s Read Let’s Move Challenge of summer 2010 states that reading just FIVE books over the summer prevents summer learning loss.