Organizational Review Tool for Community-Led Work

Back in July 2013, Amanda Bird from Edmonton Public Library shared with the Network a tool used by EPL staff to evaluate community-led initiatives, specifically with respect to the library’s relationships with community organizations and their clients. There are so many new Network members we thought it would be appropriate to share this resource again.

Last July Amanda wrote:

I’m writing to share an evaluation tool that Edmonton Public Library uses to assess its community-led library initiatives. The tool is an Organization Review, whereby EPL community librarians evaluate the library’s working relationship with community organizations. We have been using this tool, on an annual basis, for the past three years. This year, community librarians (there are 18) interviewed 2-4 different community organizations with whom they have an ongoing relationship. The attached questions are meant to be  asked in an in-person interview, but depending on the relationship, the questions can be addressed through email as well. Some community librarians have had library assistants act as scribes to record the conversation. This has proven to help with the flow of the discussion, and has enhanced the awareness of the library’s Community-Led Service Philosophy with other staff.

The objective of the Organization Review process is to have a discussion with community members in order to critically assess the library’s relationship with that particular organization. What is working? What isn’t working? How should we move forward? In addition to compiling interview data, community librarians are required to submit a reflection piece, indicating what they have learned and what their anticipated next steps will be with the organization. The Organization Reviews are submitted to branch Managers, the Manager of Assessment and Research, and to the Branch Out Team, which is a system-wide team consisting of librarians and managers who coordinate and evaluate community-led initiatives throughout EPL.

A copy of EPL’s Organizational Review question template is available here.

We used the EPL Organizational Review tool at Halifax Public Libraries recently as part of our Rural Services Delivery project, a project that Community Librarian Amanda Fullerton wrote about recently.  We made only very minor adjustments to the EPL form, to suit our specific needs.  The tools was useful in providing community partners an opportunity to reflect on the partnership with the library, and was also helpful in allowing us to understand their commitment to keep working together.  The question “How do you see our work going ahead from this point” was particularly valuable.

Sara Gillis

Community-Led Service Manager, Halifax Public Libraries

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