Feedback and Adjustments

Evaluation and planning is a process that has to do with determining . . . Where you want to go, Where you are now, Ways to get from "Now" to "Then". (Massachusetts School Library Media Association)


Successful library media specialists (LMS) reflect on their practice to increase student achievement and learning and to strengthen library programs. Through these reflections library media specialists are able to:

  • Extend and build upon previous knowledge
  • Advance and strengthen library programs
  • Develop and cultivate collaborative relationships with fellow educators, administration, and community

Self-reflection is an integral part of growing as a person and as an educator. As a library media specialist we have to be willing to take a look at what worked, what didn't work and determine what changes need to be made for future successes. Allowing room for feedback and concerns from staff through collaboration will enable the LMS to build relationships that help to improve the library program and student achievement. Through self-reflection Library Media Specialists:

  • Analyze their programs
  • Set realistic goals
  • Acknowledge ineffective results
  • Develop strategies to evaluate their choices to improve programs
  • Perform ongoing review of goals

Measuring the Program

To successfully evaluate and assess a library program there should ideally be the formation of an advisory group to help set the goals and objectives of the program, as well as to assist in the planning, reviewing, and updating of the program. Ongoing evaluation and feedback is critical in developing an effective library program where student achievement is always at the forefront. "Assessing the contribution to the education of students is the key to the survival of the position of the school library media specialist" (Woolls, 2008 pg. 211). Woolls cites Harada and Yoshina (p. 24) in regards to the difference between assessment and evaluation: Assessment is the ongoing reflection throughout the unit/activity to see what students are learning and how; and, evaluation of the program is to decide what to tell, whom to tell, and why.

Examples of Assessment Tools: checklists, rubrics, rating scales, assessment conferences, logs, personal correspondence, graphic organizers, and student portfolios.

To assist in evaluating a library program, Woolls suggests to meet with other Teacher-Librarians to find out what types of library program evaluations they have used and to whom they reported their findings. Another indicator to assist with evaluation is to collect data to determine if most students use the library to successfully complete their assignments. Collecting this kind of data is important to share regularly with teachers and administrators. As well, assignments that were not completed successfully should also be communicated with staff to determine why and to improve the chance of success in the future. Brian Kenny, Editor of School Library Journal, cited by Woolls, eludes to the importance of data collection by the Teacher-Librarian, "Neither better relations with our colleagues nor more preaching about the importance of information literacy will save our jobs. Data - that measurement of a library program's impact on student learning - isn't something we traditionally collect, or even know how to collect but if we are to survive, it's the information we desperately need" (2008, p. 211).

According to Woolls, there are four parts of the library program that can be measured. Below is a table that describes the four components and presents some ideas to help evaluate each one.

Conduct a study of other school library media centers in your district to determine numbers in regards to staffing and budgets for comparison.
Clarify job expectations; Establish performance objectives/targets; Make a plan to implement objectives; Agree on ways to measure the effectiveness of activities; Assess monitored data; and, Conference to use feedback from the process.
Use computerized circulation systems to determine use/lack of use of materials and resources.
Interview teachers and students to see how useful materials were.
Upon completion of a unit, determine if the resources they needed were available.
Check collections to see what materials have not circulated in the past 3 years.
Analyze facility, physical space, set-up, place of media equipment, etc.
Ask students and teachers for suggestions for improving space and ambiance.
Help fundraise, contact groups with invested interests (PAC) to make required changes for the facility.
Output Measures: Count number of teachers and students coming into the library every day; Estimate number of materials that circulate each day; Calculate the percentage of student body using the library once per month.
Checklists to ask teachers what services they are receiving (It was noted that this would only be beneficial if staff are aware of what services ARE available.)

Measuring Staff - Evaluating the performance of staff can be complex and subjective, measuring people on characteristics like "committment" and "judgement" versus accomplishing job requirements (Robbins-Carter & Zweizig, 1986). Robbins-Carter and Zweizig recommend evaluating personnel using a, "Standard for comparison that is job-related and flexible: Management by Objectives. The employee's performance is compared to objectives the employee was committed to accomplish" (1986,p. 108). By creating a "no fault" atmosphere for evaluation, where the purpose is not to find out what went wrong, but ways to improve the program, then acceptance of personnel evaluation will more likely occur.

Steps for successful library personnel evaluation: (Adapted from Robbins-Carter & Zweizig, 1986)
  1. Determine and set targets (admin & T-L). The targets should be specific, measureable, and specify a date for completion.
  2. Find out if you achieved the targets. Monitor progress throughout and at completion date determine how close performance was to targets.
  3. Results Review Session. Admin and T-L meet to discuss the results.
  4. Rethink/Adjust. Ask questions: How do we improve the process?, What new targets need to be set?, and, What new demands indicate target has moved?
Two examples to assist in Library Personnel Evaluation: Performance Standards and Planning & Performance Review.

Assessment & Evaluation Tools

The Institute of Literacy and Information Education at Kent University has collected resources and created a website to assist library media specialists and administrators develop and maintain a quality school library program. Some of the evaluation methods are listed below:


Asselin, M., Branch, J. L., & Oberg, D. (Eds.). (2003). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada (Monograph). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian School Library Association: Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.

Robbins-Carter, J. & Zweizig, D.L. (1986). Are We There Yet? Evaluating library collections, reference services, programs, and personnel. American Libraries. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from Academic Search Complete datebase

Tepe, A.E. (n.d). Evaluating The School Library Program. Institute for Library & Information Literacy Education. Retrieved February 17, 2010, from

Woolls, Blanche. (2008). The school library media manager. (4th edition). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.