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RIPL: Inaugural Library Data "Summer Camp" Makes Waves in Colorado

October 20, 2015 ET

October 20, 2015

By Meghan Wanucha

Library Research Service, Colorado State Library

In late July, more than 100 public and state library leaders converged in sunny, blue-skied Colorado Springs, Colorado, at Cheyenne Mountain Resort for library data summer camp, also known as the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL). A collaborative effort by the Colorado State Library and Colorado Library Consortium, made possible in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, this inaugural event transformed participants into agents of change, returning to their libraries with tools for evaluation, confidence in building research into their activities, and a network of colleagues for future learning and success.

Featuring field experts who led participants on a variety of topics, RIPL’s library data summer camp explored outcomes-based evaluation, survey design and administration, benchmarking, and data visualization. Break-out sessions dove deeper into areas such as interviews and focus groups, mastering Excel, and telling the library’s story with data.

And in keeping with RIPL’s own content, our outcome data reveal the value of this wonderful event! Through pre- and post-RIPL surveys, participants reported significant increases in knowledge and confidence in the essential subject areas we covered during the institute. A few participants reiterated this success:

  • “This was one of the best choreographed events that packed more value than I thought possible into the time we had.”

  • “This was, by far, the best conference I've ever attended and I think part of that was the fact that it was so focused on one area - we had the time to delve into the various aspects of that, as well as get to know one another and work as a team.  I look forward to applying what I learned within my organization.”

  • “I just wanted to share with you that RIPL was an incredible experience. I learned so much and feel like I came back equipped with new knowledge and skills to implement some relevant data collection and evaluation practices at our library organization.”

  • “You all did a fantastic job in all this. I can tell you spent an enormous time in planning and it shows. You delivered as expected. It's now up to me to take this and move forward, but I certainly got all the education and tools needed to do so.”

Did you miss out on the first RIPL? Intrigued to find out more? Plans are in the works for a repeat performance September 30-October 3, 2016 in Denver. We’re also showcasing parts of the curriculum at other events, such as a preconference at the Public Library Association 2016 Conference. Sign up at the RIPL website to stay in the loop! And if you’re a fan of public library evaluation, consider signing up for PL-EVAL, a new listserv dedicated to building a network of colleagues passionate about research and evaluation in and for public libraries. We’re also continuing the conversation on Twitter using #RIPLeffect.

Our deepest appreciation goes to IMLS and generous sponsors Bibliostat, Counting Opinions, EBSCO, Edge, Gale Cengage, Impact Survey, and the Public Library Association’s Project Outcome for helping make RIPL such a success. And we can’t forget the excellent guidance and advice we received from our Advisory Team, which included members from the following organizations: the American Library Association’s Office for Research & Statistics and Public Library Association, The Aspen Institute, Association for Rural & Small Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Denver Public Library, Douglas County Libraries, OCLC, RSL Research Group,  Hawaii State Public Library System, University of Denver, University of Washington, and Urban Libraries Council.

Meghan Wanucha is a research assistant at the Library Research Service, an office of the Colorado State Library. LRS conducts research about libraries, provides statistics and analyses to library stakeholders, and works with the Colorado library community and beyond to use data more effectively and persuasively.