Research on Impacts of Library Programs

Stories about how a library service improves the lives of a patron have both more emotional impact and often are easier for people to understand. When the number of participants is added to give a sense of scale, these can be very credible and effective testimony to the value of libraries. But these stories assume that the program has certain beneficial outcomes. Do they?

For example, the stories about the “Read to a Dog” make sense and are wonderful. Knowing that another 100 kids in your library also benefited, adds both credibility and an idea of the scope of impacts. But what if a skeptic asks: “Does the “Read to a Dog’ approach really make a difference in educational outcomes? Has there been solid research on the outcomes of this program?”

Nicholas  Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explain the need for solid research evidence on a program’s effectiveness in Chapter 3 “From Anecdote to Evidence” in their 2014 book, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. 

Research on Impacts of “Read to a Dog” Programs: The “Read to a Dog” Program gives children, especially those struggling with reading, to read in a comfortable non-threating environment.

Reach Out and Read Program Research: In this program, pediatricians and nurses encourage new parents to read to their children and distribute free books to facilitate this. Each year 4.2 million children are served by this program and they receive 6.5 million books.