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NEO Shop Talk

The blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Evaluation Office

Archive for April, 2016

Meet the New NEO

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Cindy Olney and Karen Vargas

Head’s up, readers.  Look for a name change to our blog on May 1.

That’s the day the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center will be replaced by the new NN/LM Evaluation Office, a.k.a. NEO.  The NEO will have the same staff (Karen Vargas and Cindy Olney) and same location (headquartered in University of Washington Health Sciences Library) as the OERC; but it has a new and evolving role in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM).

This time last year, Karen Vargas (evaluation specialist) and I (acting assistant director) began writing a proposal for this new NN/LM office.  The University of Washington Health Sciences Library submitted our proposal as part of its larger one for a five-year cooperative agreement to fund the NN/LM Pacific Northwest Regional Medical Library. (Spoil alert: UW HSL won the award.  See the announcement here:  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/news/nlm-rml-coop-agreement-2016.html.)

Our new name reflects one of a number of changes in NN/LM’s funding, organization, and management.  Leaders of the NN/LM are re-envisioning what it means to be a national network of organizations that work together to advance the progress of medicine and public health through access to health information. The NEO staff will contribute our evaluation expertise to help the leaders focus on key outcomes and measure progress and accomplishments.

The vision set forth in our proposal is to influence NN/LM’s use of evaluation to engage and learn about its programs, make good decisions, and enhance the visibility of its successes. Our proposed strategies were organized around five main aims. First, we will support the NN/LM leadership’s ability to make data-driven decisions. Second, we will collaborate with the regional medical libraries to increase use of evaluation in their regions.  Third, we will provide quality evaluation training opportunities to build evaluation skills of network members.  Our fourth aim is to increase visibility of NN/LM’s program successes.  Lastly, we plan to provide new written materials about effective and emerging evaluation practices and trends.

The exact nature of our services will be determined by the needs of the NN/LM as we all develop new approaches to working together. We do know that the NEO’s scope will expand beyond health information outreach evaluation to include other areas, such as organizational development and internal services to users and clients. We also want to put more emphasis on evaluation use, both for decision-making and advocating program value to stakeholders. As a teaser, Karen and I plan to develop our own expertise in evaluation reporting, participatory evaluation methods, and digital story-telling. (In fact, Karen’s blog post next week will describe our  recent participatory evaluation experience at the Texas Library Association 2016 meeting.)

The most important news for our blog readers, though, is that our URL address will not change for the foreseeable future. So in spite of the name change that’s coming, you will still find our weekly blog posts here.  So “see” you next week.

 

Our Favorite Evaluation Blogs

Friday, April 15th, 2016

successful business woman on a laptop

We really don’t want you to stop reading our blog!  But April is a really busy month for us, so this week we’ll make sure you get your evaluation buzz by letting you know of some other great evaluation blogs.

AEA365 – This is the blog of the American Evaluation Association.  This blog shares hot tips, cool tricks, rad resources, and lessons learned by different evaluators every single day!

Better Evaluation Blog – Better Evaluation is an international collaboration to improve evaluation by sharing information about evaluation methods, processes and approaches. The blog has posts that provide new perspectives  about particular issues in evaluation.

EvaluATE – EvaluATE is the evaluation resource center for the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. Their blog has lessons learned, tips, or techniques on evaluation management, proposal development, evaluation design, data collection and analysis, reporting, and more.

Evergreen Data – Stephanie Evergreen writes a blog about data visualization.  For the record, she has written the book(s) on data visualization, Effective Data Visualization and Presenting Data Effectively.

Visual Brains – Sara Vaca writes about new techniques and ways of visualizing data, information, and figures to communicate evaluation findings and to improve evaluation use, but also for use in other stages such as planning and analyzing.

The OERC Is On The Road in April

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

 

A young boy having fun driving his toy car outdoors.

The OERC staff will be putting on some miles this month. Karen and Cindy are slated to present and teach at various library conferences and meetings. If you happen to be at any of these events, please look for us and say “hello.”  Here is the April itinerary: 

Cindy will participate in a panel presentation titled “Services to Those Who Serve: Library Programs for Veterans and Active Duty Military Families” at the Public Library Association’s 2016 conference in Denver. The panel presentation will be held from 10:45 – 11:45 am, April 7. She and Jennifer Taft, who is now with Harnett County Public Library,  will present a community assessment project they conducted for the Cumberland County Public Library, described here in the November/December 2014 edition of Public Libraries.

Karen will conduct the OERC workshop “Planning Outcomes-Based Outreach Programs” on April 8 for the Joint Meeting of the Georgia Health Sciences Library Association and the Atlanta Health Science Library Consortium in Decatur, GA. This workshop teaches participants how to develop logic models for both program and evaluation planning.

 Cindy and Karen will facilitate two different sessions for the Texas Library Association’s annual conference, both on April 20 in Houston. One session will be a large-group participatory evaluation exercise to gather ideas from the TLA membership about how  libraries can become more welcoming to diverse populations. The second is an 80-minute workshop on participatory evaluation methods, featuring experiential learning exercises about Appreciative Inquiry, 1-2-4-All, Photovoice, and Most Significant Change methods.

Cindy will join the NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region and the Pennsylvania Library Association to talk about evaluation findings from a collaborative health literacy effort conducted with 18 public libraries across the state. The public libraries partnered with health professionals to run health literacy workshops targeted at improving consumers’ ability to research their own health concerns and talk more effectively with their doctors. The public librarians involved in this initiative worked together to design an evaluation questionnaire that they gave to participants at the end of their workshops. The combined effort of the cohort librarians allowed the group to pool a substantial amount of evaluation data. Cindy will facilitate a number of participatory evaluation exercises to help the librarians interpret the data, make plans for future programming, and develop a communication plan that will allow them to publicize the value of the health literacy initiative to various stakeholders. The meeting will be held April 29 in Mechanicsburg, PA.

In addition, Cindy will be attending a planning meeting at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda in mid-April with Directors, Associate Directors, and Assistant Directors from the NN/LM. Our library, the University of Washington Health Sciences Library, will receive cooperative agreements for both the NN/LM Pacific Northwest Regional Medical Library and the NN/LM Evaluation Office, which will replace the OERC on May 1. (You can see the announcement here.)  We will let you know more about the NEO later, except to say that we will be moving into the same positions in the NEO that we hold with the OERC. You have not heard the end of us!

Although we will be on the road quite a bit, rest assured we will not let our loyal readers down. So please tune in on Fridays for our weekly posts.

 

What chart should I use?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

It’s time to put your carefully collected data into a chart, but which chart should you use?  And then how do you set it up from scratch in your Excel spreadsheet or Power Point presentation if you aren’t experienced with charts?

Here’s one way to start: go to the Chart Chooser at Juice Analytics.  They allow you to pick your chart and then download it into Excel or Power Point. Then you can simply put in your own data and modify the chart the way you want to.

They also have a way to narrow down the options.  As a hypothetical example, let’s say a fictional health science librarian, Susan, is in charge of the social media campaign for her library.  She wants to compare user engagement for her Twitter, Facebook and Blog posts to see if there is any patterns in their trends. Here are some fictional stats showing how difficult it is to find trends in the data.

Monthly stats of blog, Twitter and Facebook engagement

Susan goes to the Juice Analytics Chart Chooser and selects from the options given (Comparison, Distribution, Composition, Trend, Relationship, and Table).  She selects Comparison and Trend, and then also selects Excel, because she is comfortable working in Excel.  The Chart Chooser selects two options: a column chart and a line chart.  Susan thinks the line chart would work best for her, so she downloads it (by the way, you can download both and see which one you like better).  After substituting their data with hers, and making a couple of other small design changes, here is Susan’s resulting chart in Excel, showing that user engagement with both blog posts and Facebook posts shows a pattern of increasing and decreasing at the same time, but that Twitter engagement does not show the same pattern.

Line chart of Blog Twitter and Facebook engagment

By the way, the total time spent selecting the chart, downloading it, putting in the fictional data, and making chart adjustments was less than 15 minutes.  Is it a perfect chart?  Given more time, I would suggest adjusting some more of the chart features (see our January 29, 2016 post The Zen Trend in Data Visualization). But it was a very easy way to pick out a chart that allowed Susan to learn what she needed to from the data.

One thing I want to point out is that this is not a complete list of charts.  This is a good starting place, and depending on your needs, this might be enough. But if you get more involved in data, you might want to take a look at small multiples, lollipop charts, dot plots, and other ways to visualize data.  Check out Stephanie Evergreen’s EvergreenData Blog  for more chart types.

 

Last updated on Monday, June 27, 2016

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under Contract No. UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.