How can you tell if it’s working? Recent developments in impact evaluation and their implications for information literacy practice.

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Sharon Markless David Streatfield


This paper surveys the (patchy and uneven) advances in LIS impact evaluation over the past ten years and notes the surge forward in public library impact evaluation, before looking more broadly at international and educational impact evaluation scene and noting the advance of programme-theory driven approaches. The authors then identify various trends drawn from the wider evaluation discourse that they think are likely to be relevant to information literacy (IL) practitioners, academic staff, employers and others who are concerned with impact evaluation of IL work.

The trends identified are:

  • growing clarity about the levels of evaluation expertise needed to deliver information literacy support from the perspectives of leaders of LIS education programmes, staff of academic institutions, library leaders and managers and IL practitioners,
  • growing interest in more inclusive or democratic approaches to impact evaluation
  • the limitations of the simple logic model of evaluation
  • re-purposing of existing data to meet new evaluation needs
  • collecting and presenting stories of change as impact evaluation evidence.

Implications for IL practitioners are offered in relation to each of these trends.


The authors then predict that over the next ten years there will be a strong focus on whether IL interventions are having an impact in combating misinformation and disinformation; more systematic and sustained approaches to IL impact evaluation in the health and higher education sectors but less so in some school libraries and other settings. They think that the more proactive public libraries will adopt IL evaluation approaches, that workplace IL will continue to depend upon the organisational culture, and that research on information seeking in context will shed light on evaluation priorities. Finally, they hope that future IL work will be underpinned by programme theory-based evaluation. 

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How to Cite
MARKLESS, Sharon; STREATFIELD, David. How can you tell if it’s working? Recent developments in impact evaluation and their implications for information literacy practice.. Journal of Information Literacy, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 1, p. 106-119, june 2017. ISSN 1750-5968. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 feb. 2020. doi:
Impact evaluation; information literacy; programme theory; education programmes; performance measurement; evidence
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