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Impact evaluation and IFLA: Evaluating the impact of three international capacity building initiatives

David Streatfield (Information Management Associates, Twickenham, UK)
Sharon Markless (Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, London, UK)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 14 June 2019

Issue publication date: 8 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to describe the evolving IFLA approach to impact evaluation through three of its international programmes: Freedom of Access to Information, Building Strong Library Associations (BSLA) and the International Advocacy Programme (IAP). This review positions these three programmes within the wider discourse of the international evaluation community.


Each of the three programmes is considered in turn to show what they were trying to achieve and how thinking about impact evaluation at IFLA is evolving.


This paper reports key evaluation findings for relevant phases of the BSLA and IAP programmes in general terms.

Research limitations/implications

The views presented are those of the evaluation consultants who advised each of these programmes (and in the cases of BSLA and the IAP conducted the programme evaluations).

Practical implications

The processes described and the conclusions drawn should be of interest to anyone involved in international or national library evaluation, especially of public libraries, library associations and national libraries.

Social implications

The paper suggests that more systematic impact evaluation of public libraries, library associations and national libraries is necessary to ensure their future survival.


The authors were uniquely placed to see and participate in IFLA impact evaluation discussions over the past decade.



The authors wish to thank former and current members of the IFLA HQ staff, especially Ingrid Bon, Fiona Bradley, Stuart Hamilton and Gerald Leitner, who variously commented on evaluation frameworks and tools, ToC drafts and programme evaluation reports, the i3 Conference paper and this paper, and also all the IFLA programme participants who gave up their time to participate in interviews to help evaluate the BSLA and IAP programmes and to build the ToC for the latter programme. All of the views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official views of IFLA.


Streatfield, D. and Markless, S. (2019), "Impact evaluation and IFLA: Evaluating the impact of three international capacity building initiatives", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 105-122.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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