BCLA 2017: Measuring Value Beyond Our Walls

Notes from the panel session.

Panel members:

  • Kyla Epstein, Vancouver Public Library Board
  • Karen Ranalletta, CUPE BC
  • Alex Hemingway, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Carlos Carvalho, United Way of the Lower Mainland
  • Councillor Kiersten Duncan, City of Maple Ridge

Why the Panel Members are Here

  • What can we do to show value to those who fund us? Starting a conversation that panel hopes we can take back to where we work.
  • Here because support libraries. Passionate about public services.
  • What’s different from before: growing appetite and movement to reinvigorate investment in public services.
  • Hardest part is to translate hard work to show value. Not just sustain but also grow the work.
  • Work that union members are doing; bridge between union and charity.

Economic Context (Alex)

  • often hear public services are liked, valued, want more, but that it’s not realistic
  • these are false claims: can’t afford, can get away with ignoring cost of failing to invest in public good
  • investment in public services have incredibly shrunk. Provincial public expenditure down from 22% to 17%, would have additional $7 billion if spent as much in percentage as before
  • need to look at what’s happened: example: tax cuts have vastly benefited top 1% ($39k+/yr) compared to bottom 50% ($53/yr)
  • cost of not investing in public services = part of a much broader problem, especially policy problem
  • poverty cost = $8-9 billion per year, double what it costs to implement poverty plan
  • universal child care: note implemented even though show increased employment, left to private market and fees skyrocket
  • K-12: studies shown get huge returns in investments, but seen underfunding for many years
  • inequality itself puts a damper on economy
  • failure of investment in public services make us poorer and sicker
  • stop need to systematic failure to acknowledge challenges that arise from not investing in public services

Investing (Kiersten)

  • focus so much on numbers
  • important to focus on social context, but easy to say can cut at the numbers
  • compelling when have presentation to show impact on people’s lives
  • don’t hear about the programs and impact often enough at council
  • many programs for marginalized populations, but often don’t hear from them because often don’t participate in governance
  • speak to the social context and impact on community
  • can’t calculate how libraries help people and break it down into numbers
  • we forget that it’s not in the numbers, so need to touch on the social aspects more often

Meaningful Advocacy (Kyla)

  • how to describe influence to funders and (non-)users
  • having personal relationships to councillors. Single trustee to single councillor.
  • been able to do this because of anecdotes and stories collected
  • greater emphasis on outcomes rather than activities
  • staff might say we have done this, and here’s what’s happened because of it
  • how do we get the stories of our “alumni”? how do you make sure that users come back to come back and tell you?
  • link library plan to city strategies: can tell city, you don’t have to do all of this, we’re doing a lot of this already, please give us more money to do more of it

Benefit to Agencies (Carlos)

  • huge contribution
  • value of libraries to community continue to grow
  • Example: Avenues of change: Richmond City Centre. Child vulnerability rates = 43%. Work with community to develop plan that works best for that neighbourhood. Rest of Richmond at 33%. Many agencies moving programs into walls of the library. Library provide space and place to house resources. No obvious how library is supporting community. It’s now becoming a hub.
  • wouldn’t be able to do the work they do without partnering with agencies who partner with libraries

Last Comments

  • How are you going to lobby in a meaningful way?
  • Need to measure outcomes and record outcomes. One easy way is by interviewing and surveying people who serve. Capture what services meant to users. Then need to consider how present to funders, who want to see outcomes.
  • best thing to focus on is cost saving in the long run. Show initiatives, positive impact, and show impact if weren’t available.
  • BC Advocacy page provides questions you can ask at town halls and to provincial representatives
  • need to work together to bring it together at the provincial level and long term
  • there is nothing written in stone about the trend on squeezing public services, even the most ambitious plans from provincial parties right now would not take us back to the level of spending from a decade ago

Someone took graphical notes.

Break Time

Last concurrent session of the day. Time for another break.
young warthog

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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