We had a workshop on developing logic models a couple of days ago. I thought it went pretty well, and I'm hopeful that using the logic model process will help us in our planning and implementation.
There's a danger, of course. Planning tools get a bad reputation when they become ends in themselves and people start to feel that they're spending endless amounts of time filling out forms and going through useless exercises rather than actually doing anything. Our trainer pointed that out as one of the risks. It's critical for us that we use the tools efficiently and only to the extent that they're helpful in focusing our attention.
What I'm most interested in is the emphasis on outcomes, and on the measurement of outcomes. I still cringe when I read discussions among librarians that focus on thinking up things that will get people to come to the library, as if bodies in the library is the goal. Number of bodies might be an indicator, but only if that is tied to something that is making a positive difference in the lives of the people who happen to come in. I've said it many times: my goal is not to build a better library -- it's to figure out what we can do to make a positive difference for the people in our communities.
Despite all of the Library 2.0 talk out there, I still don't see sufficient attention paid to this. Indeed, we frequently seem to be working from the assumption that libraries are inherently good and necessary, and that our job is to figure out how to raise our profile so that people will appreciate how important our libraries are (and thus, continue to fund them and to keep us employed, by the way). But we should be trying to prove it, not assume it.
So all the discussions about "what will keep people using the library" (whether you mean that in the physical or virtual sense) seem to me to be wrongheaded. The question ought to be, "what can we, as librarians, do to make a positive difference in the lives of the people in our communities?" If you can't come up with an answer to that question, and then demonstrate that the programs and services that you provide actually make that difference, then, frankly, it would be irresponsible of the people who hold the purse strings to keep funding you.
That's what the logic model process is about -- making sure that we keep our attention focused on the needs of the people in our communities, and then demonstrating that we're making a difference. Over the next few weeks, we'll be trying to apply logic models to just a few of our major initiatives so that we can get a better feel for how they work and how we can best use them.