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Best of AEA365: Leveraging Libraries for Evaluation Success by Rick Stoddart

My name is Rick Stoddart and I am Head of User & Research Services at the University of Idaho. Libraries offer evaluators many useful tools including access to community data, methodological resources for evaluation, research expertise, and even public spaces to present findings. Here are some tips to get you started:

Rad Resource:

Library Card – This might seem a no-brainer, but your library card is the key to accessing a bunch of resources both online (ebooks & databases) and in print (periodicals & books). Besides your public library card, some academic libraries offer community user cards to checkout their materials. More information at http://atyourlibrary.org/how-get-library-card.

Rad Resource:

Evaluation and Assessment Methodology Sources – Whether you need to consult the Handbook of Evaluation: Policies, Programs, and Practicesor to access an article in the journal Evaluation and Program Planning — a library is a good starting point to locating a plethora of evaluation related resources to help you plan your next project. See more evaluation methodology sources available in a library near you: http://bit.ly/EvalMethod.

Rad Resource:

Statistical Sources – Libraries contain various handbooks, databases, and expertise in locating statistical and marketing data that may inform your evaluation practices. Whether it is utilizing librarian expertise in accessing demographic statistics about a community you are studying at Census.Gov or consulting the ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States for specific data on the amount of money spent weekly by families on food – your library has a statistical resource for you.

Rad Resource:

Online Databases – Many libraries purchase access to online databases that include articles, peer-reviewed research, and other data of interest to evaluation experts. You can access these resources by visiting your local library or even directly from your own computer if you are an authorized user. In addition, many states purchase statewide access to online materials for their citizens. For example, Oregon offers access through their Libraries of Oregon website and Idaho via their Libraries Linking Idaho website. Check your own state library for more information.

Hot Tip:

Ask a librarian – Seeking a book on participatory evaluation (http://bit.ly/ParEval) or access to a resource in this blog post? Ask a librarian! Most libraries have chat, text, and email reference services — so you don’t even have to leave your office. More information at http://www.atyourlibrary.org/how/expert-staff.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Best of aea365, an occasional series. The contributions for Best of aea365 are reposts of great blog articles from our earlier years. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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