CLA 2012 -- UConn Libraries  Virtual Focus Groups
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CLA 2012 -- UConn Libraries Virtual Focus Groups



The University of Connecticut's five regional campus libraries conducted experimental Virtual Focus Groups. Discover how they were set up and the results.

The University of Connecticut's five regional campus libraries conducted experimental Virtual Focus Groups. Discover how they were set up and the results.



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CLA 2012 -- UConn Libraries  Virtual Focus Groups CLA 2012 -- UConn Libraries Virtual Focus Groups Presentation Transcript

  • UCONN – A SIX CAMPUS SYSTEM 1=Storrs 2=Avery Point 3=Greater Hartford 4=Torrington 5= Waterbury 6=Stamford
  • There Are Five Regional Campuses Waterbury West Hartford Avery PointTorrington Stamford
  • We…Have about 20% of the UConn student populationAre commuter campusesOffer 4-year Undergraduate Degrees including
  • We…Are the headquarters or primary sites for some important University programs: Bachelor of General Studies Marine Science: Bachelor, Master & PhD NEAG School Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates: Master Public Policy, Department of: Master Social Work, School of: Master & PhD
  • Big Programs/Limited Staff• Our staff ranges from 5.5 FTE at the largest library to 1.5 FTE at the smallest.• Our student to staff ratios at the biggest two libraries are over 400/1.• We must regularly “read” the wishes of our clientele to assure that our human resources are used effectively on priority needs.
  • How We Read The Tea Leaves• University Libraries have been conducting formal service satisfaction assessments for over 15 years.• Main two instruments have been ARL’s LibQual and a home grown User Survey. Both are “strategic” in nature.• Growing interest in “tactical” surveys with more focused questions and results.
  • Strategic v. TacticalStrategic Surveys:*Allow senior managers to review performance and directionof the organization*Are sometimes referred to as “baseline surveys”*Are used to redefine issues that front line managers mustfocus on and which can then be measured with tactical surveysTactical Surveys:*Allow service management on an ongoing basis*Are conducted by front line managers*Use simple continuous tracking measures*Are based on factors which can be controlled by front linemanagers-- Handbook of Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Management. Hill & Alexander, 2006.
  • Why Focus Groups?A Well established and credible assessment tool“designed to obtain perceptions on a definedarea of interest.”“…are often used in the study to define theconcept of satisfaction and discover theconditions or circumstances that influencesatisfaction.”(Kreuger, Richard A. & Casey, Mary Anne. “Focus groups: a practical guide forapplied research”, 2009)
  • Why Focus Groups? Susan Herbst, “Ears to the Ground”, Inside Higher Ed (, June 7, 2011
  • Why Focus GroupsStrategic vs. Tactical Survey CommentsLibQual+ (Fall, 2010) for Greater Hartford Campus 180 Survey Responses 80 comments, 60% of which were “I like the library” or “I like the staff” Trecker Library Virtual Focus Group, Spring, 2011 6 Virtual Focus Group Members 100 comments specific to library use and needs. Our goals: to gain relevance to responses and to garner more responses
  • When they work well• A well designed focus group is an exciting environment where good ideas readily win support and bad ideas are quickly discarded.• Ideally, commentary mostly remains focused on the topic and hand and never reaches a “personal” or personally intimidating level.• The information which comes out of such a session will ideally hit at both the strategic and tactical levels of planning and, if tangential comments are not forbidden, can easily lead down some new, unexpected and valuable paths.
  • When They Don’t Work Well Respondents may tailor responses to earn the approval of the moderator or other participants in the room. Focus groups are affected by the dynamic of the group setting which can bring interpersonal interactions, including conflict, with a result of skewed results.(Morgan, David L. “Focus Groups as Qualitative Research”, 1997).
  • When They Don’t Work Well• Sessions are often dominated by a few participants• Concepts being discussed are often complex with many voices chiming in and are frequently done a disservice by the person taking notes who is attempting to summarize what is being said in a few words.• Focus groups can be difficult to schedule and, if a time constraint has been set, they frequently conclude with a number ideas never coming to the fore.
  • Why a Virtual Focus Group?• To address past difficulties gathering staff and students in one place at one time• Lower usage of an important asset: Time• Reduce pitfalls such as negative group dynamics• Lessen the influence of the moderator• To gain a full, written record of all comments• To gain comments specific to our needs
  • Our Experiment• All five regional libraries using a common set of questions• Very focused questions• Using Wordpress software because of blog experience• Relatively limited role for moderator• No substantial incentive to participate• Online survey of participants at end
  • 2012 Focus Group Purpose Clarification of LibQual+ 2010 Terminology for RCL “Low Scoring” Service QuestionsGoal: Determine how LibQual 2010 respondents defined the five service questions receiving the lowest adjusted “satisfaction” (i.e., “Perceived”) scores:• The library helps me stay abreast of developments in my field(s) of interest. 6.44• Library space that inspires study and learning 7.15• An online catalog that is user-friendly for finding materials 7.39• The printed library materials I need for my work 7.23• Employees who instill confidence in users 7.18
  • Developing a Virtual Focus Group• Our initial step was to create common text for our blog instruments.• Next each library, using Wordpress, created a blog unique to its setting. As part of set up, we each took steps to assure that our blogs would not be indexed on the internet as a way to avoid unauthorized users.• Invitations went out and we each secured a number of undergraduate and, as appropriate, graduate students.
  • Wordpress v. Google BloggerBlogger: Wordpress: Blogger: Proved to be less flexible with graphics Had an “Anonymous” reply option we couldn’t remove We already had experience with Wordpress
  • Wordpress & Privacy
  • Waterbury’s Design
  • Torrington’s Design
  • Torrington
  • Virtual Blogs In Action• Students were asked to visit the blog to answer each of the five questions and then to revisit later as often as possible to respond to the comments of others.• Campus processes occurred at slightly different times due to weather problems and other issues but were active in late October and during November.• We took a very relaxed approach to moderation, attempting to avoid active involvement which might derail or divert discussions.
  • Responses toComments
  • EXPLORATION OF COMMON“THEMES”Themes. Because responses were narrativein nature, each library examined its full setof comments to discover “themes” in thestatements. Theme information for eachlibrary was presented together in a reportappendix for comparative purposes. Anexamination of all five sets yielded thefollowing frequently mentioned itemscommon to most libraries:
  • COMMON THEMES BY QUESTION1. Staying abreast of developments in field(s) ofinterest: a. Document Delivery/Inter-library loanare necessary to find newest materials. b. New paper books/journals areimportant as way to keep up with new research.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIONThe library helps me stay abreast of developmentsin my field(s) of interest. We (the Libraries) needto make sure DD/ILL service remains adequatelystaffed, supported and sustainable as usage growsand/or as new needs surface. We (the RCLs) needto consider ways in which to continue to acquire,and to better advertise the existence of, paperresources as an effective means of letting ourclients know what is happening in their fields ofinterest.
  • COMMON THEMES BY QUESTION2. Library space that inspires study andlearning: a. Quiet space is very important. b. A variety of types of spaces includingquiet and group study should be available. c. Libraries need to be attractive withgood furniture and décor.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION• Library space that inspires study and learning. We (the RCLs) have been moving in the right direction with regard to the physical upgrading of our library spaces. More needs to be done to improve the comfort and ambience of our libraries. Also, we know that our re-emphasis on quiet, instead of group study spaces, was well- timed but that we need to continue to assure a variety of spaces at our locations. And “QUIET” is a frequently used word for what is expected of our environments.
  • COMMON THEMES BY QUESTION3. User-friendly online catalog (note WorldCatLocal was in use at the time of the responses). a. The catalog must be intuitive and veryeasy to use. b. Searches should quickly lead toneeded results.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION• An online catalog that is user-friendly for finding materials. This concern has become somewhat moot because LibQual 2010 was taken when Worldcat Local was in place and now we have Summon. It is likely, though, that suggestions that our catalog be intuitive, easy to use, and have it lead directly to usable results, are universal without regard to platform. While the RCLS have no direct way to change the catalog to meet user needs we can certainly remain vigilant for and report any issues that need addressing by others.
  • COMMON THEMES BY QUESTION1. Provision of paper resources:Paper resources (books and journals) remain important for helping library users stay abreast of advances in their fields and also to serve as examples of good researching, writing and citing.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION• The printed library materials I need for my work. The ongoing mention of a need for more (or at least no lessening of) new book acquisitions at the RCLs probably speaks to the fact that the majority of our clients are undergraduates who are often looking for recent, authoritative overviews of topics instead of research level databases and e-journals. The RCLs may want to discuss how we can better meet this need which seems to never go away.
  • COMMON THEMES BY QUESTION1. Employees who instill confidence in users:Well trained and confident library staff members who are able to provide assistance as needed are the most important aspects.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIONEmployees who instill confidence in users.•A puzzling result -- When asked, our clients generally giveloud kudos to our staff members.•One thing we do know from the comments, is that userconfidence is bolstered when the staff members theyencounter can confidently meet their needs.•With the arrival of more self-service tools like online-tutorials, our users will be gaining more confidence in theirabilities to meet their own needs.
  • Incentive or No Incentive?Little interest in certificates or other “rewards”. One student remarked, “We just want to help the library.”
  • The 2011 Virtual Focus Group Team• Avery Point. Jan Heckman• Greater Hartford. Bill Uricchio• Stamford. Phara Bayonne• Torrington. Sheila Lafferty• Waterbury. Shelley Goldstein