IMLS’s Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) is leading the development of the Agency’s first Learning Agenda, which is organized around actionable learnings to three research and evaluation priorities: child reading literacy, future of museums and equity grantmaking. Each strives to establish and advance credible, relevant, and actionable information to better meet the needs of our nation’s museums and libraries and their communities, especially those in underserved locales.
Purpose: The Learning Agenda’s primary objective is to produce and share learnings based on credible research studies, statistical surveys, and program monitoring and evaluations.
Use: IMLS plans to devote time in FY 26 to self-evaluate the design and implementation of this first Agency Learning Agenda. These learnings are intended to inform development of the next IMLS Strategic Plan and accompanying Learning Agenda.
Research and Evaluation Priorities
Child Reading Literacy: IMLS will engage with the nation’s leading practitioners and researchers in and related to the library sector on the issue of child reading: from engagement, library involvement, the relationship between families and libraries, other institutions and their role in the library ecosystem and equity factors.
Future of Museums: IMLS brought together nearly 100 museum leaders from across the field in Washington, DC, in March 2023 for the Museum Leadership in Dynamic Times convening—to discuss lessons learned and remaining questions from the challenges that emerged starting in 2020, from decision-making in the face of a global pandemic to understanding how to respond to widespread social unrest. Building on the learnings from this convening, IMLS will be shepherding further research that reflect universal leadership and management challenges to the fore, including issues of business models for financial stability, workforce changes, and civic engagement. IMLS Convening Summative Report.
Equity Grantmaking: IMLS will evaluate its discretionary grantmaking practices to better understand the horizontal and vertical equities associated with grant money and technical assistance on museums, libraries and archives serving small and rural populations; black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations; and high poverty areas. One intent of this assessment is to establish a new baseline for subsequently benchmarking future equity efforts in research, grantmaking, and policy.
Implementation: IMLS is partnering with Mathematica, Inc to conduct mixed-methods investigations to answer learning questions in the Agency’s three research and evaluation priorities for Childhood Reading, Future of Museums and Equity Grantmaking.