Monday, March 21, 2011

Collection development & acquisitions: Information needs assessment

The information needs assessment is the first step in the collection development process.

Requirements are
  • a profile of the community that the library serves
  • a profile of the library to indicate what resources and services are presently provided and how satisfied the users are
  • a comparison of the two profiles
Analyse the community, collection and services. Are there any gaps? Why are the gaps there? Are there gaps on both sides? What do people need? What isn’t needed?

Six reasons to analyze your community
  • Collection development
  • Creating new or modifying existing services
  • Deciding on service points or changes in physical facilities
  • Gauging community’s attitudes about services and collections
  • Predicting staffing needs
  • Budgeting process
Are branches located in the right place? Why would new branches replace old and closing branches? How do the community feel about the collection? The Internet markets feedback. What does everyone feel and think? Do workers represent the community? All staff need to be surveyed. Does the community find easy and convenient access? Once you know what’s wanted, you can allocate more money.

Community analysis and library budgets
  • Budgets based on actual objectives not increments from previous year
  • User data helpful in defending budget
What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to accomplish it? Back up with what you know is wanted in the library.

Community analysis and public relations
  • Generates interest in the library
  • Shows library cares about the community
Remind people you are there, and you care about what they think. Look at the potential community.

Information gathered
  • Why a person does or does not use a product or service
  • How product or service is used
  • Where is the product or service used
  • Good and bad qualities of product or service
  • What new product or services would be of interest
Determine points. Where is the busiest branch? Why is it the busiest branch? What do people think about products and services? Get ideas to improve.

Basic information seeking behavior observations
  • As importance of information increases, so do the amounts of money, time and other resources devoted to acquiring accurate information
    o If you really need something, you’ll spend more money and time to get it
  • Law of least effort
    o We want it to be easy and near (perhaps retrievable from the Internet). If a user cannot find what they’re looking for, they’ll go to the library. If it’s not important, they may not bother.
Factors influencing individual’s information seeking
  • Cultural background
    o Different people expect and want different information
  • Past experiences with political systems
    o They would be weary if they had had a bad past experience
  • Group membership
    o Different people view libraries differently. Libraries may not seem cool to those without access.
  • Personal mind-set
    o A bad day’s demand would be different from a good day’s demand

Hire a consultant?
  • Advantage
    o outsider’s view
  • Disadvantage
    o costly
Analysis is time consuming. Do you hire someone with experience and with no background knowledge regarding libraries? Their experience is useful. They would interview both staff and the public.

In-house study
  • Advantage
    o Understand how results will be used
    o Increases commitment to assessment process
    * Staff will get involved and feel more relaxed knowing what is happening
    o Streamlines communication of results
  • Disadvantage
    o Lack of expertise
    • Not many people are trained in customer knowledge and are experts, so use management
  • o Scheduling problems
    • How do you expect the job to be done on regular time?
  • o Personal biases

What is studied in a community analysis?
  • Historical data
    o census
    o population data
  • Geographical information
    o Different libraries within a specific area may combine but may not accept the joining.
    o Which direction is the library growing?
    o How does the library help all patrons?
  • Transportation availability data
    o Very important
    o How is location reached?
  • Legal research
    o Who has purchasing authority?
    o Are rights obeyed?
  • Political information
    o Is the library a political issue? This applies to all libraries.
  • Demographic data
    o Extremely important
    o In public libraries, look at who’s using it.
    o In school libraries, how many new students are enrolled?
    o Market research may be available
  • Economic data
    o What businesses are in the area?
    o How does this affect the community as a whole?
    o How do you attract businesses?
  • Communications systems
    o Look at Internet, Cable TV
  • Social and educational organizations
    o Real allies with cooperation organizations
  • Cultural and recreational organizations
    o public: who is the competition providing materials for same purchases? There is a lot of teen competition, so be aware
  • Other community information services
    o where information can be gathered from, e.g. newspapers and radio
How and where to collect data
  • Key informant
    o Individuals and public officials who tap into community and libraries. Their information shouldn’t be relied on solely, there will be biases. They will see the library more favorably if they feel involved. Very important.
  • Community forum
    o Get information from everyone. Can be expensive with extensive advertising. Get two extremes, the middle won’t appear.
  • Social indicators
    o From census and reports.
  • Field surveys
    o Questionnaires and interviews can also be used. Use a combination of structured and open ended questions. Can be time consuming. Must honour privacy rights. Survey in primary languages library serves – gives a positive look you’re concerned about all the community.
Needs assessment in special libraries
  • Activities approach
    o In-depth interview with group or individual.
    o What is a typical day like?
    o Forms questions.
  • Data analysis method
    o Sources used in department, with technical.
    o Determine all sources
    o What is not included in reports?
  • Decision-making approach
    o Focuses on necessary information to make decisions
    o Establish delay costs
  • Problem-solving approach
    o Similar contact different people in different departments
Internal data for library profile
  • Collection
    o type and quality of material
  • Usage
    o By type and capita
    o How many people are registered members out of all area population?
    o How many different requests are asked?
    o What materials are used?
    o How many people use the library and for what purpose?
    o How many people visit in an hour, day, week, month?
  • Staff
    o How many work full time?
    o How many work part time?
  • Budget
    o % spent on materials, most on staff
  • Compare library with others
    o Look at different libraries and compare
  • Compare library against standard checklists
    o What are the best materials to have
How to analyze data
  • Tally sheets list range of responses and overall totals
  • Perform statistical analysis e.g. averages and standard deviation
  • Prepare graphs relating different variables to one another
    o Have someone who can analyze data
How to interpret data
  • Questions asked when reviewing data
    o What are the most important needs?
    o What needs are most relevant to mission and experience of the library?
       * It may not be the library’s role to need, or someone may not be around to do it.
    o How do we reconcile conflicting needs?
       * Roles may cancel one another out. Is one more important than the other?
    o What are realistic expectations for re sources to respond to needs?
       * A role may be expensive. Do you remove a program or role to support it? Do you apply for a grant?
Final report
  • Should include:
    o Objectives of study
    o Methodology used
    o List of problems identified
    o Prioritized list of recommendations

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