This guide is the culmination of a three-year research+practice partnership between the Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries team and library staff from Future Ready with the Library, YOUmedia, Los Angeles Public Library, Anythink Libraries, and Multnomah County Library. It represents the most comprehensive effort to date to synthesize findings and best practices from our work together. The guide was created to provide support to library staff seeking to evaluate their connected learning programs and spaces, but can also be adapted for use by a wide variety of library programs and spaces as well.

Whether your goal is to collect community feedback to inform the design of your program, reflect on your own practices as a library staff member, mentor, and broker, or assess youth experiences and outcomes, this guide can help you through the process. Our aim is to use a connected learning lens to help you:

  • Consider how data collection and analysis could inform the design and improvement of your library program(s).
  • Think through your goals for program design, assessment, and evaluation.
  • Select the right tools for your needs.
  • Create an evaluation plan.

This guide is designed to get you started with effective, easy to use, and accessible tools and strategies to approach program design, reflection, and evaluation from a connected learning perspective. There are also workbook prompts throughout, to support the development of an evaluation plan for your program, and to help you decide which tools are best to answer your questions. If you’d like to take a deeper dive, the guide also offers some additional resources to explore.

Written by: Sari Widman, William R. Penuel, Anna-Ruth Allen, Amanda Wortman, Vera Michalchik, Josephina Chang-Order, Tim Podkul, and in collaboration with Linda Braun.

The Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries (CCLL) project—a research and practice collaboration between the Connected Learning LabCU BoulderSRI InternationalLos Angeles Public Library (LAPL), YALSA, and YOUmedia—enables libraries to better assess learning outcomes for their connected learning programs and spaces, and it boosts their ability to use evaluation data to improve their programs. It is focused on identifying challenges connected learning programs face and helpful ways of addressing those challenges. This project is generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.