Cultural Discovery Program: Program Evaluation by Ira Kazi

This is a brief evaluation of the program that I  ran at my local library. I do not work there and I ran the program as a volunteer. I wanted to reach out to the community in a way that is not only helpful but enjoyable. I think the program was successful but as with all things in life, there is definitely room for improvement.

Program Background:

  • The program ran from May 20, 2016 to August 12, 2016 at the Central branch of Hamilton Public Library.
  • The program consisted of three art history and four literature classes, which were offered on Fridays from 2:00PM – 3:30PM
  • The classes were designed to introduce participants to art and literary subjects by focusing on an artist or writer, a group or movement.
  • The program was promoted by a librarian, Kat, on HPL’s website, library posters, and during other programs and by Ira on Kijiji, Hamilton Spectator’s event’s page, and on social media page.
  • Kat created book displays for two of the literature classes while Ira displayed books during four of the literature classes.
  • Attendance ranged from 3 to 9 participants per class – consisting of mostly retired people with some people in their 20s.

 

Goals

  • HPL:
    • Provide programs that would increase library users
    • Promote the library’s collection
  • Ira:
    • Improve research, presentation, communication skills through teaching classes
    • Build a relationship with the library and community

Evaluation

  • The program evaluation was done based on observations and informal surveys of the 29 participants.

Results and Analysis

  • Provide programs that would increase library users:
    • The number of participants was higher for the art history classes.
    • Surprisingly, the popularity of artist/writer subjects had minimal impact on attendance [for example, Tolkien who is better known amongst English readers had less participants than Dante who is not as popular].
    • Majority of participants complained numerous times about the lack of promotion.
    • Due to high use of social media among younger generations, it was assumed that web-based promotion would prove to be more effective in reaching younger audiences. However, the web-based promotions [kijiji, Spectator, social media] brought in only 10% participants while word of mouth promotion proved to be more effective as 50% attended because of promotion during other library programs, word of mouth from fellow participants, or the teaching style of Ira. The rest of the participant said that they noticed the in-library posters while using the library’s other services. . Clearly, on-site promotion seems to work better than the online promotion.
    • While participants seemed to enjoy the subject matter, the number of participants did not increase throughout the program’s duration.
    • It is not possible to assess the role of time, day, and season in relation to participant attendance with our current data as we have only run the classes on Sundays. After the Fall sessions, we will be able to compare the results and determine which day attracts more participants.
  • Promoting the collection:
    • Only 3% of the participants checked out books that were displayed and promoted during the class. Although we do not know if there was a rise in the number of materials borrowed, participants did not show any immediate interest in the library materials during class.
    • While it appeared to a good way connecting the material with the library’s collection, it appears to not have very little impact in actuality.
  • Format of the classes:
    • Handouts were given to participants during three of the classes.
    • While student appeared to briefly read them during class, they do not seem to benefit the overall class.
    • Based on comments, students appeared to be enthusiastic about the powerpoint or Prezi formats used. Students prefer the use of visuals.
    • The art history classes included class participation activities, which student preferred in comparison to the literature classes that did not.
  • Building the relationship with the community:
    • The programs seem to attracted existing library users rather than new users. The existing users who attend these programs may promote them to new users thus increasing library usage

Interpretation

  • The number of participants needs to increase, which can be achieved through improved methods of promotion. It might be better to focus on signage, larger displays, and word-of-mouth promotion in order to increase the number of participants as people appear to trust promotion within the library (whether through signs or word of other patrons or librarians) rather online promotion.
  • Rather than focusing on popular artists/writers to attract audiences, it may be beneficial to focus on the types of participants that may attend programs. By focusing on how they could benefit for the classes, we can re-format the structure and the topics of the classes.
  • The use of the library’s collection during the programs seems to be unsuccessful as there seems to be little interest in checking out the collection. The library would benefit from promoting its collection in different ways, such potentially offering a short tour of the collections in relation the subject discussed, show participant how to search for the materials, or provide handouts with useful links and resources pertaining to the subjects.
  • Programs are a good way of successfully building a relation with the community. Therefore, the library need to better promote itself to create more awareness of the different services and programs it offers.
  • The format of the classes it might be too “academic”. Audience may feel more enthusiastic is the class had a more “entertaining” format. Rather than handouts with more information, it might be more beneficial to focus on visuals and useful resources. The success of class participation illustrates the need to continue having fun participatory activities.

The future

  • Use surveys during Fall classes for program evaluation
  • Focus on reaching different/new library users types [students, immigrants, etc.] and promote to other groups [AGH, programs, etc.]
  • Need to see the effects of doing the class on Fridays rather than Sundays and of promoting them in the Fall catalogue.
  • Introduce the library’s collection in more innovative ways
  • Create activity more based classes

 

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