SJSU Portfolio

Competency #14

Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”
Professor Irwin Corey

In the world of teachers’ unions there is no more touchy subject than evaluation. When what is usually a mundane employment practice becomes a national controversy, we know there is a problem. Few teachers in fact object to being evaluated for their effectiveness in promoting student improvement, but the devil is in the details. What constitutes success? Who defines it? Once defined, how do we measure it? Formulating and agreeing on “specified criteria” for use in evaluating people or programs is always a difficult task—evaluation using clear criteria is a much easier task. However , as the pace of change accelerates it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain success once it is achieved As the quote above reflects, institutions such as libraries which have clear criteria for success often find that continuous change will be necessary to keep them near their goals—like sharks, they must move or die.

Although some values and priorities are held in common by most libraries, the goals and challenges will vary among diverse library types, and therefore the criteria for evaluating their success will also vary. In a public library, for example, statistics which show increasing circulation are frequently used as measures of the value of libraries to the community in an argument for increased funding. This can be seen in the 2010 ALA “Public Library Use Fact Sheet 6”. A competent public librarian must certainly stay aware of usage statistics; where they are weak, causes can be investigated and appropriate changes made. However, in spite of their popularity as a funding mechanism, a competent librarian would use additional measures for evaluating public library success in a meaningful way. For example, customer satisfaction surveys and questionnaires are often used to gather information about public library services, and thenchanges can then be made in an effort to improve the user experience.

Circulation increase may bring a gold star for your local branch library, but a steady parade of young women looking for copies of Twilight will do nothing to convince university budget committees that the library is an integral part of student success or academic prestige in their institution: other criteria for judgment are required. My Libr 285 research class was taught by Mary Somerville, who led the Cal Poly Library through their early and successful change from an underutilized traditional library to a thriving user-centered commons positioned at the heart of campus learning. We analyzed this change as an example of action research used to guide reform, and observed that many chosen reforms were justified by the 2004 RUSA (Reference and User Services Association) standards for all types of reference interaction—these standards are frequently used for individual employee evaluations in many types of libraries. A competent librarian should be expected to begin with awareness of these standards, progressing toward manifesting these recommended behaviors in every interaction with library users. In The Academic Master Plan of the California Maritime Academy, which I frequently consulted as part of my internship work there, library development is projected in response to the mandates of the school vision. While working there I observed that progress toward the plan goals had become part of the criteria used to evaluate services and strategies in the library. A stated vision or goal can become a yardstick for measuring library achievement.

In school libraries two systems of evaluation ought to be applied. The standards created by the AASL (2010) for youth information literacy are inspiring—thoughtful, thorough, and visionary. If school libraries were evaluated (but also funded and staffed!) according to student success in meeting these standards, it would transform the dead spaces full of outdated books which still cling to life in many public school libraries, and would truly justify a central role for school libraries at every level. If a teacher librarian is not familiar with these standards and their L4L— ‘Learner for Life’—implementation plan, that person is not a competent librarian. It is also fair, right, and ultimately beneficial to the librarian for the teacher librarian and her program to be measured as the rest if the school is, by the testing mandated under No Child Left Behind and California law. K-12 standards include many elements of information literacy—the teacher librarian who can share this burden and contribute to an increased score will be a valued colleague, and have an additional justification for increasing library resources.

As evidence of my competence in evaluating library services I submit a plan created for Deb Wallace’s Libr 240 class. With two classmates I reviewed current library services at St. Mary’s College. We evaluated the value to students of current services, especially looking at how the library was supporting the changing student populace. We then created a plan to increase library integration into college-wide academic planning and give the library a measurable role in increasing student achievement. I also used this plan as an example of my competency in marketing and advocacy as discussed in Competency #4. This is logical, since recursive evaluation in response to changing conditions is crucial for the success of any organization.

I also offer as evidence a Powerpoint presentation I created as a hypothetical proposal for change in a school library. In this assignment, created for Dr. Loertscher’s Libr 233 class, I applied the criteria we had gathered throughout the semester for a successful 21st Century library media center to an existing library in need of an update. The overview shows my understanding of what elements it is important to review in judging an existing library set-up; the changes proposed reflect the criteria used in evaluation. Two comments I would make on this example: the negative portrayal of an actual school library is a condemnation of the lack of funding and staffing allotted for the library—it is not a reflection on the current staff! Also, I originally had a page of permissions or attributions for images not in public domain or my own. I am not able to reconstruct that page at this time, and plan to display these images without attribution for a brief period of time for a very limited educational purpose, under Fair Use law.


Academic Master Plan Steering Committee (2009). The California Maritime Academy academic master plan [pdf]. Retrieved from

American Association of School Librarians(2010). Standards for the 21-st Century Learner. Retrieved from

American Library Association (2010). Public Library Use-ALA Library Fact Sheet 6. Retrieved from

Reference and User Services Association. (2004). Guidelines for behavioral performance of reference and information service providers. Retrieved on 03/15/2009 from