In May 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded a National Leadership Grant to the American Library Association (ALA) for a research project to understand and document the characteristics, audiences, outcomes, and value of U.S. library public programming.

The resulting project, the National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA): Phase I, implemented the first research recommendation that came out of an IMLS National Leadership planning grant in 2014. (Read ALA’s December 2014 white paper that shares findings from the planning grant.)

NILPPA: Phase 1, conducted in collaboration with Knology, a social science research nonprofit, brought together a network of researchers, practitioner-researchers, and advisors to answer two questions: How can we characterize and categorize public programs offered by libraries today? And what competencies and training are required for professionals working with library programming?

Working with a talented and experienced committee of advisors, ALA and Knology disseminated a series of surveys and held interviews and focus groups with library practitioners to help map the existing landscape of library public programming, including program types, topics, formats, audiences, partner relationships, and current competencies, and also to identify those skills required in the field that, perhaps, are not being adequately taught in formal learning settings. The findings are summarized in the NILPPA: Phase 1 white paper.

Work is currently underway on Phase 2, which asks the questions: What key indicators can demonstrate the local, state, and national impacts of library programming? How can we describe and categorize the range of community partnership models used by libraries, taking into account shifts in service delivery that have emerged during the COVID-19 era?

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. NILPPA is a project of ALA’s Public Programs Office, which empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types.

About Knology

Knology is a non-profit research organization that produces practical social science for a better world. The organization pursues this goal to help professionals in a variety of sectors build inclusive, informed, and cooperative societies that can thrive together with the natural systems on which we all depend. As a transdisciplinary collective of over 30 social scientists, writers, and educators, the organization’s work process is built on equity, transparency, and deliberation.

For years, Knology’s team has collaborated on research and evaluation initiatives for the library field, particularly in the area of public programs. John Fraser, PhD AIA, President & CEO, and Rebecca Joy Norlander, PhD, lead the NILPPA research. Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein, PhD, and John Voiklis, PhD, are Researchers. Joanna Laursen Brucker is Project Manager and Chief Operating Officer. Beverly Sheppard, Research Fellow, leads the communication efforts for the initiative. For more information about each of these team members, visit the team page.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS’ vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through grants LG-250153-OLS-21, LG-96-17-0048-17 and LG-62-13-0210-13, and by funding from the ALA Cultural Communities Fund.