PaLA: Know Your Community

Sunday, October 14, 2018. Nicole Hemline, Director of Monroeville Public Library, and Sara Jane Lowry Consulting  and Michelle Puzzanchera Associates, LLC

Pre-discussion with Margie: sticker voting for needs assessment. “Did you come today to check out a book or use a computer?” “Do you think the Library hours are good? Y/N”

Overview of the Community

What do they need and what does the community love? Help determine what needs to be kept, what services are most relevant. Non probability sample survey – community perceptions. Lack of a town center, but library functioned as that center.

Start with an Assessment – Going through Harwood process and people want to feel a sense of community. Connecting people together – an outcome.

Prepping the Needs Assessment:

  • Need for Library
  • Goals
  • People think of us 1st
  • Priority niches – can’t be all things to all people
  • Gaps – what population should we focus more on that we are not service
  • Steering Committee: Library staff, Board, Friends, Community stakeholders (Chamber of commerce, municipal liaison, community college, etc.)

Timeline:

  • Weekly task force meetings,
  • Beta testing
  • Create a FAQ sheet for public – “is my info confidential?”
  • Ran a lottery to encourage survey-taking
  • Train volunteers and staff – online survey (larger community)
  • Kickoff – 1 month
  • Conclude and provide a report on the data
  • Be flexible – take advantage of events, etc.

Share tasks and create accountability – delegate and train – all the little details (distribute to schools, gift cards, lik/button on website, Make sure slip is placed in Annual appeal, etc.)

Developing the Survey – Michelle

Convenience sample, with snowball tendencies. Start with Library users, but hoped to reach non-users at community events. Reached out to leaders and asking that the survey be sent to mailing list of the group (snowball). Less of a drain on fiscal resources, but can’t speak statistically to how representative the sample is.

Survey Development:

  • Decide what you want to know.  Do you want attitudes or behaviors? Do you want to ask about knowledge or gather info about attributes (demographics)
  • Determine general content areas,
  • Generate a list of questions and organize them under content areas,
  • Determine type of info sought,
  • Decide on question structure: Choose words that express the question and Reflect the information sought – use outside help – Handout online  How you ask a question really does matter.
  • Prepare introduction letter, instructions, etc.

Test the Survey

  • Piloting – trying out the entire survey process
  • Pre-testing – trying out questionnaire only – slow readers v. fast readers.  Length is important – not too many questions. Can use skip-logic with survey monkey online survey. Are you using conventional language?Are choices exhaustive? What’s been left out and needs added?
  • Want to identify problems:
    • Are questions/instructions clear?
    • Do people understand how to respond?
    • Are choices mutually exclusive, exhaustive?

Data Collection and Reporting

Logistics – identify sites, leaders, volunteers, schedules, equipment needs, etc.

Training, Best practices, Review survey, and Consider an “interviewer’s Kit”.  Ethics, confidentiality, inadvertent bias, background of project, how to approach people without scaring them and explain the incentives, and have volunteers practice taking the survey on the devices. FAQ sheet for data collection team. Branding and introduction letter – people want to verify and are more privacy conscious.

Flyers with tear-offs, Bitly for tiny url, business card-size handouts. Have something a person could take home with them.

Reporting Findings –

  • Report total number of respondents for every question N=XX
  • Report percentages – easier to compare
  • Use graphs for web-based survey or create graphs in Excel – Bar Graphs – easiest to interpret and comprehend.
  • Code open-ended response by looking for common themes, report percentages.
    • “What do you like best?” Code answers customer service, collection, – shove answers into areas and then categorize more granularly.
    • Show to staff first before going to the Board for re-interpretation.
    • Harvest quotes and put them in a database.  Positive feedback and interesting conspiracy theories 🙂
    • Asked about community issues and if the library was involves in solving community problems. Many saw library as partner in finding a solution.
    • Use them sparingly, but they provide rich content
  • Examine difference in sub-groups by demographics (age, level of education). Pivot tables. Gave new information and reinforced the good work they were already doing.

Library was raising money for an elevator during the same time. Staff turnover was high during the process, as well.

Challenges: marketing component, needed more internal communication and social media buzz, didn’t meet the goal, some volunteers didn’t follow through,

Perception is Reality – If schools are hot-button, make sure community knows how you work with the school district. Drugs? Crime? Traffic… Hold on to what you know about the community – weave through what is real and what is not.  Focus groups to explore some of those issues – a place to get clearer about some information that comes out of the surveys. Use Harwood conversations to help explain.  Ex: Safety is an issue, but people don’t feel unsafe when asked!

Ask for technical app that made survey easier to use on iPads. If doing a phone survey, have caller use the online survey for prompts – use exact same language.

“One no is enough” – do not talk a person into taking the survey. It isn’t ethical. Ask a question about if you are a cardholder of the library (93% were users). Focus on “we are improving the community” and not just focus on the library. If a non-user answered now, they didn’t know how to answer anything else!  Skip logic? “What would entice you to use the library?” Hint: Put library card holder question at the end near demographics.  When making the survey, think about flow and how comfortable it is to complete. Ask if a person agrees with a statement, ex. “Does your child need financial aid?” Bigger life and community challenges were the focus. Touch on job training, education, starting a business, training – speaks to real life needs. Then position library as a place that can help you solve those needs.

 

 

 

 

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