big talk from small libraries 2014: you can q! using q method to understand community needs for...

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Mary Wilkins Jordan, Assistant Professor, Simmons College GSLIS (MA) What is Q Method? Not widely known in the library field yet, this is a research method that lets you reach out to patrons in a new way to get their opinions on your services, materials, and/or programming. After developing a set of ideas you want to get feedback on from your community, you might be tempted to try sending out a survey and asking people to rate everything on a scale from one to five. But this is boring! And the results are ultimately not as useful as they could be in helping you to make decisions. Q Method is a forced-ranking process, where your patrons have to make decisions about things they like more and like less. Then you run everything through a statistical program, and end up with reams of interesting and useful data you can use to impress your stakeholders with all your evidence-based decision making!


  • 1.Using Q Method to Understand Community Needs for Small Libraries

2. A way to help you uncover patrons wants and needs More fun then surveys, more informative Lets you blend quantitative and qualitative ideas Gives you good info to share with your funders and community members! 3. Never taking meal breaks Personal/family issues intruding at work Issues with members of the public Lack of personal space to work Issues with students 4. Lack of personal space to work Lack of time to finish work Difficulties with co-workers Lots of interruptions to your work Personal control over your time Pressure to be successful Many deadlines to meet Shifting schedule 5. Lack of personal space Shifting schedules Personal control over your time Issues with members of the public Never taking meal breaks Technology you train patrons to use Building facilities Technology you use at work 6. All libraries are looking for ways to connect with their communities, and to ensure they are serving the needs of the people. Figuring out what people want is necessary for libraries, not just as an abstract though of making patrons happy, but the concrete need of continuing to stay relevant and important in the community. 7. Define your evaluation need Develop a set of ideas relevant to your topic Recruit people (patrons, community members, groups) Print out cards and worksheets Demographic questions: age, library use, library card, gender identification, languages spoke at home, etc. 8. Issue each person a set of cards and a worksheet Rank them best to worst Some reassurance is usually necessary Sort cards, then flip and record the numbers on the back Any debriefing is minimal 9. Enter data into the computer program I use the free PQMethod, but there are newer ones Magic happens Okay, its really a huge amount of factor analysis But it seems like magic! Much data emerges groupings of similar interests You define and label them Understand your patrons in new ways 10. The idea for this project was started by the former Lewis and Clark Library system in Illinois, and funded by an LSTA grant from the Illinois State Library. Lewis and Clark wanted to know some of the things patrons and non-patrons most wanted to see in public libraries. This information could help libraries put together their own strategic plans, or help them make decisions about services and programs to offer. Guessing about their ideas and being wrong can lead libraries down a bad path of wastefulness. 11. These patrons are used to the library providing traditional services, and want things to stay focused on the services library have done so well. They are not interested in expanding to new forms of service, although several participants in the study commented that they themselves did not want to use technology in the library but knew others did want it. 12. This group was interested in new services and programs from the library. They wanted to get information in their library, but wanted it on their own terms and in ways that may not be typical in libraries as they have been organized in the past. They want to get information and create information in the ways most useful to themselves. 13. These patrons are interested in the using the library, but not necessarily just for the materials we provide. Services and programming, but not necessarily technology, are more important to them, and are the hooks that will help to bring them into the library. Like the Information Innovation users, they are interested in using the library in new ways to receive the service they desire. 14. Urban libraries Small and rural libraries I want to understand what patrons need and want Build on study done in Illinois, and expand! Will be recruiting participants soon! Could be a way for you to be introduced to Q 15. Access to Government documents and information Downloadable materials (e-books, movies, music) Access to preserved local history documents Author talks and other cultural programming Book discussion groups Meeting spaces Preschool story hour Digitized collections online Afterschool homework assistance Teen programs Materials in languages other than English Programs and services in languages other than English ESL classes Adult Literacy programs Public access computers Classes on computer/digital skills Bookmobile services Weekend and evening hours Homebound services Services for the physically disabled Access to maker space hardware and software for designing Instruction on use of library resources for school classes Programs and services supporting small business Genealogy resources Holds and Interlibrary Loan Services Social Media Presence Mobile Applications Exhibits and displays Self-service Checkout option Wi Fi access Reference and research services, in person, online via phone Citizenship and immigration services Community information and referral Business center services (color copiers, fax, oversized printing, notary public, etc.) Literacy/ABE/GED instruction Proctoring for Exams Services to the homeless Smart cards for services such as printing, copying, paying fines, etc. Going cashless Proctoring services Scanning and faxing for the public Job search or workforce development programs 16. Q Methodology (Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences) by Bruce F. McKeown, Dan B. Thomas Doing Q Methodological Research: Theory, Method & Interpretation Simon Watts, Paul Stenner 17. I am always happy to help people with Q method projects!Mary Wilkins Jordan Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science

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