Is our two way communication a one way street? Informal Surveys & Polls in Libraries


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Presented at NLLA, St. John's 2005 with Louise McGillis

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Is our two way communication a one way street? Informal Surveys & Polls in Libraries

  1. 1. Is our two way communication a one way street? Gillian Byrne & Louise McGillis Memorial University of Newfoundland Libraries
  2. 2. Informal Surveys & Polls  Benefits  Easy to create/disseminate  Often high return rate  Targeted feedback  Provides operational feedback  Disadvantages  Unscientific results  Can be difficult to interpret results  Uncontrolled access  Easy to compose badly!
  3. 3. Choosing A Software  Think about...  Price  Software / hardware requirements  Ease of use  Features
  4. 4. Web-based (hosted) Survey Software  Requires no hardware / software to run  Often extremely easy to use  Many free options available  Little control over the look & feel  No control over the data  No control over the server speed  Limited features  Examples:  SurveyMonkey  QuestionPro  WebSurveyor
  5. 5. Install (product) Survey Software  Control over look & feel  Control over the data  Often have more features  Range from open source to very $$  Hardware requirements  Software requirements  Expertise needed to install  Need to store / backup data  Examples:  VT Survey (Open Source)  Perseus SurveySolutions
  6. 6. Memorial Quick Poll Experience  Wanted focused feedback from patrons on a wide variety of aspects  Created the “Quick Poll” - an ongoing series of basic online polls for the MUN community  No more than 2 questions (besides basic demographic questions)  Linked of the Library news  Live for 2 weeks at a time  Quick polls always end with a comment box  Results tabulated & disseminated internally on staff website
  7. 7. Results Screen Cap
  8. 8. Thus far...  Topics covered  Physical space  Study/ Research habits  RSS feeds  Reasons for visiting  Response Rate  Ranging from 237 (study space poll) to 62 (RSS feeds poll)  Average response rate ~100  Comments  Great comments response rate, both related &unrelated to the poll topic
  9. 9. Sample Comments  Either get blinds/curtains for the 5th/4th floor carrels by the windows, or set up a larger carrel section that is away from the windows, though I'm not sure where that would be, as the two or three near the silent area are not many and its usually fairly noisy with people talking on the cushioned seat area. Thanks for listening (Space Survey)  provide a map indicating study areas and their level of privacy. (Space Survey)
  10. 10. Sample Comments  The off campus login feature is great. It really is a time saver. Instead of having to go to the library, I can do a lot of work from home, and know exactly what I need to get when I get to the library. (Why are you here? Survey)  I use the online system majority of the time. had looking for the physical book and it is more expensive to photocopy than print. I also use a lot of resources in formatting my report/assignment. (Research Habits Survey)
  11. 11. Difficulties Encountered  Not enough data for branches to work with  Contradictory data  Multiple responses  Hastily designed questions  Difficulty in creating / tabulating surveys  Acting on results!!
  12. 12. Tips for Success  Have a clear idea of what you’re asking and why you want to know  Keep polls simple and brief  Take the time to design questions well  Have a plan for disseminating and acting on results  Make poll results and the actions that happened public  Try not to ask questions about things you cannot (or will not) act on