Guide to Using the Summer @ Your Library Quality Principles and Indicators

The Summer @ Your Library quality principles and indicators, and the companion assessment worksheet, have been created by librarians for librarians as tools to help you:

  • reflect on and communicate with colleagues about your summer programming;
  • identify areas for improvement;
  • develop and demonstrate strategies for developing and maintaining quality programs;
  • evaluate your summer programming; and
  • communicate to stakeholders about the impact of and goals for your program.

This guide provides suggestions for making the most of these tools to develop and improve your summer programming year after year.

To download a PDF version of the guide, please click here.

Using the Summer @ Your Library Assessment Worksheet

The assessment worksheet can be used to identify areas where your program is strong and areas that might benefit from improvement. It is important to remember that the principles are aspirational and intended to be used as a guide for planning, building capacity, evaluating, and communicating about your program. Only the most ideally-resourced libraries may be able to rate themselves highly in every indicator on the assessment worksheet.

  • Encourage staff to fill out the worksheet and encourage them to be honest in their assessments.
  • Ensure that all staff members have the opportunity to fill out the assessment worksheet to ensure maximum buy in and feedback.
  • Provide time and space for staff to discuss their responses to the worksheet to foster conversation and reflection around summer program planning and implementation. Be sure to talk about both what went well and what was not successful (and why) to improve the program for next year.
  • Record the collated responses to the worksheet each year to identify areas of improvement and change.
  • Use the collated responses to the worksheet and the conversations to begin planning your next summer program.
  • Make time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes!

Identifying Indicators and Principles to Focus On

Don’t be too ambitious when using the principles and indicators to improve your program. Select a manageable number of indicators and principles to focus on. You can always work on others in future years.

  • Use the responses to the assessment worksheet and the results of reflective conversations with staff when deciding which principles and indicators to focus on.
  • Incorporate feedback from conversations staff has had with community members about what matters to them in summer programs. Draw these comments out from staff at all levels when deciding what to change about summer programming.
  • Think about what areas of improvement might be most urgent, what your community’s priorities are, or where you have the resources to make change.
  • Decide as a team which areas to focus on for next summer so that everyone is connected to and invested in the actions you will take.
  • Once you’ve identified indicators and principles to focus on, discuss and decide on strategies for strengthening your program in those areas and create an action plan.

Formulating Your Action Plan

Ask (and answer!) the following questions as you create your plan:

  • What new programming and activities might you offer to help you strengthen your program in the targeted area(s)? What might you have to stop doing to allow staff to implement new activities?
  • What research and best practices are available to help support and guide your program development?
  • What support do you need (internally and outside the library) to make changes to your program? How will you be able to obtain that support?
  • Are there organizations or people in the community who can help you develop your program in the targeted areas?
  • How will you evaluate the success of your new activities?

Implementing Your Action Plan

Create a realistic and achievable action plan for implementing your strategy to ensure you are successful.

  • Develop a plan and timeline and decide who will be responsible for implementing your strategy.
  • Identify where staff might need training to implement programs that achieve the quality indicators and develop and implement a plan for providing that training.
  • Plan to meet regularly with key stakeholders to stay on track and provide opportunities to share successes and troubleshoot any challenges you are facing.

Evaluation

Use the quality principles and indicators framework to review and reflect on your program once again.

  • At the end of the summer, complete the principles and indicators assessment worksheet again and compare responses with those that staff gave the previous year to see where progress has been made.
  • Take time for reflection. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. Review your summer planning as well as the program itself.
  • Collect community feedback in formal and informal ways and compare it to staff reflections. Reflect on the unique needs and priorities of the community as you evaluate progress made on existing goals and new goals for coming years.
  • Decide whether you have achieved as much as you can or are able to with on your targeted indicators and determine whether to continue focusing on the same indicators for the coming year or focus on new areas.
  • If you are using the Summer @ Your Library outcome statements as part of your summer program evaluation, combine your outcomes data with language and data from the principles and indicators framework to create a compelling and comprehensive picture of your summer program.

Communication

The principles and indicators can provide you with content and language for conversations with staff, community members, funders, and other stakeholders about your program, its impact, and its direction.

  • Use the language in the principles and indicators to frame your reflective conversations with staff.
  • Take time to share success stories and lessons learned with staff not involved in summer programming and share and celebrate accomplishments with staff and stakeholders.
  • Engage key stakeholders in ongoing conversations throughout the year about program quality to raise awareness of your programs, share strategies and resources, and strengthen partnerships.
  • Use the principles to let stakeholders know not only the impact of what you’re doing but also your goals for the program and the increased impact it can have with their support.