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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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