Case Study Research: A Program Evaluation Guide for Librarians

Case Study Research: A Program Evaluation Guide for Librarians

Case Study Research: A Program Evaluation Guide for Librarians

Case Study Research: A Program Evaluation Guide for Librarians


This enlightening book presents a hypothetical evaluation case study to explore and propose tools for effective library program assessment.

• A hypothetical program evaluation case study

• Vignettes and examples related to the hypothetical case

• Focus questions, a case application, and application questions and exercises with each chapter

• End-of-chapter references

• A brief glossary of common case-study terms

• Appendixes of additional program evaluation materials


Charles and Mertler (2004) identify three purposes of case study research: to provide vivid descriptions of an individual or phenomenon; to provide explanations; and to provide evaluation data. Case study research can identify strengths and weaknesses that may lead to modifications and improvements.

Dudden (2007) identified five core methods—needs assessment, quality improvement, benchmarking, library performance standards, and outcomes measurement—that should mark effective library program evaluation. Case studies using a systems approach incorporate all of these methods to provide a holistic view of one program or segment of an organization. The case study is part of the big picture. The researcher looks holistically at the setting to understand linkages among systems (Marshall & Rossman, 1995). Stake (1995) defined a case as a bounded system. Using the system metaphor, cases are envisioned as holistic entities with individual parts that function in their system or environment. The Guiding Principles for Evaluators (American Evaluation Association, 2004) include systematic inquiry as one of their five guiding principles.

Operating within the system metaphor, the researcher works with the stakeholders within an organization to gain a clear picture of how the program is a part of the overall network of planning, instruction, and assessment. The entire assessment team works to provide a rich description of the program and its contributions to the organization or system.

This book is intended to offer readers an introduction to case study research in relation to a program-related process for a fictional South Central case. Focus questions are provided at the beginning of each chapter to help the reader concentrate on key topics and terms. Chapters include end sections outlining major program evaluation theories and concepts, and the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (1994). Other features include case study applications and exercises at the end of each chapter.

Chapter 1 provides a general introduction to case studies as a form of program evaluation. This chapter includes background information for someone who is new to the . . .

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