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Session Notes: Project Outcome, Harry Potter Alliance, and Programming Librarian at ALA

This is part of a series of Session Notes from grantees who have received Professional Development grants from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Each grantee will share their professional development experience and include tips and other resources from the workshop or class. Grantees had their choice of an article for the Compendium, a webinar or a podcast. This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Rob Lesher (left) accepting award for east Berlin Community Library
Rob Lesher (left) accepting an EBSCO award on behalf of the East Berlin Community Library


by Rob Lesher,
Executive Director,
Dauphin County Library System

Project Outcome
Project Outcome is a project and partnership between the Public Library Association and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop a standardized nationwide Outcome Based Evaluation Tool.

The amazing part about the project is that it collects data on a local, state and national level.  It creates standardized evaluation tools based upon seven specific areas: Civic/Community Engagement, Digital Learning, Economic Development, Education/Lifelong Learning, Early Childhood Literacy, Job Skills and Summer Reading.  The evaluation tool for each area has a set of minimal questions and the survey can be sent electronically or can be handed out in paper and the data entered by staff later.

Why do we need to add another thing to our plate to do?  Honestly, evaluation and solid data is crucial for all of us to make an argument for our funding.  Private funders want Outcome Based evaluation to be a part of their grant applications and the Federal Government requires Outcome Based Evaluation for our grant projects, including LSTA. Is it not more powerful to say to a board of supervisors, 85% of the parents who attended our story time program say that they now read daily to their children, than to say 20 kids took part in a story time program?

What is an outcome?  An outcome is a change in knowledge, confidence, application or awareness.  So an outcome based goal for a program could be that 80% of the attendees will be aware of the electronic databases that the library subscribes to.

To use Project Outcome, you do have to register at their website.  That website is  You do have to register to use the website and you have to register your organization. After you registered you can begin to use their evaluations.  There are great training opportunities to be able to learn how to use these projects.

The program is funded by a grant, but PLA is committed to maintain the resource in the future.

Harry Potter Alliance
What is the Harry Potter Alliance?

The Harry Potter Alliance is a non-profit organization that provides outside-the-box approach to civic engagement. Using the concept of fandom programming, they take the themes of literature and use it to spark civic engagement.  Their website is The mission of the Harry Potter Alliance is to empower members to become like the heroes they read about and to create a better world. They are harnessing the power of popular culture and making our world a better place.

A chapter is easy to form. Tell them you are a chapter and send your information. They engage young adults and teens into specific campaigns. An example is using the theme of racism in Harry Potter, mudbloods, and creating a campaign in the community to make people aware of the issues of racism.

This summer they are carrying out a campaign called Protego to raise awareness of Trans people and Trans rights. They have a toolkit which you can get at

What I love about them is they also do videos to highlight some of their campaigns. This spring, they released a video explaining congress. It is an amazing video and is freely viewable on YouTube.

Programming Librarian
Are you looking for a program about history which you can carry out for less than $50?  Here is a website of library programming ideas sponsored by the American Library Association.

You can learn on daily basis about programming ideas which other libraries are doing around the country.  Details on the program are all there and you can modify for your local situation. Amazing resource!


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