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INSC 554: Public Library Management and Services

6. Collecting and Analyzing Data (15 Points)

Conduct community analysis and implement your evaluation action plan to gather feedback from users about your selected PL service under study. Report in terms of the following: Summarize and report findings (question-by-question) based on data gathered while conducting user-centered assessment/evaluation about your selected PL service. If applicable, provide transcription of data collected as an appendix. (Provide other forms of data collected).

6.1 Critique and analyze data collected: Discuss and report user feedback about the PL service in terms of their needs and information experiences, availability and access, barriers/challenges faced in using the select service, kinds of benefits in using the service, suggestions for improving the service, etc.

The program coordinator Danielle Velez sent the online questionnaire survey link via email to parents. Within two days, the survey system has received 27 responses (note that the other one response is a testing result). In general, the survey results show that parents are satisfied with the program, and they feel their children are really enjoying their Imagination Library. But some of them suggested a content improvement of mailed books. A future plan for such improvement and in other user-centered areas is presented after the data analysis part.

Question 1: How did you hear about this program?

Eight (29.63%) out of twenty-seven parents said that they heard about the program through mass media (ads, posters, newspapers, etc). Nine parents (33.33%) said a friend, colleague, or family member recommended the program to them. Ten parents (37.04%) commented that they heard about the program through other channels. In specific, seven parents said they learned of the program information from hospitals. One parent said he/she got to know the program from the Department of Children Services. Another one said he/she learned of the program from the childbirth classes of University of Tennessee. The other parent said he/she received an email about the program but didn't clarify the source of the email. From the collected responses, it can be concluded that the majority of parents learned of the program right after they gave birth to their child. Generally, parents and eligible children have easy access to the program.

Question 2: How long have your child(ren) been in this program?

According to the collected data, the majority children (40.74%) have been in this program for one or two years. Four parents (14.81%) said their children have been in the program for less than one year. Two parents (7.41%) said their children have been in the program for two or three years. Five parents (18.52%) said their children have been in the program for three or four years. Five parents (18.52%) said their children have been in the program for over four years. If the participants are representative of the whole sampling population, it would be reasonable to conclude that the majority of registered children are newly enrolled into the program.

Question 3: How often do you purchase new storybooks for your child(ren)?

The responses indicate that only 18.52% parents purchase storybooks for their children as often as possible. While most parents stated that they did "sometimes" or "often" purchase storybooks for their child(ren). None of the parents never purchased storybooks for their child(ren). The data shows that all of the parents are supporting their chid(ren)'s learning by purchasing books and they are taking responsibilities for the early education of their child(ren).

Question 4: How often do you read with your child(ren)?

Most of the parents (81.48%) spend a lot of time ("almost every day") reading with their child(ren). Four parents (14.81%) read with their child(ren) three or four times a week. Only one parent (3.70%) read once or twice a week to his/her child(ren). This question is added to the questionnaire survey as suggested by the program committee. The program sends one age-appropriate book to registered children each month. However, the more important thing is to have children enjoy the story in the book not just own the book. The question responses show that a great majority of the children are having book reading time everyday.

Question 5: How many minutes each time do you read with your child(ren)?

This is an extended question of Question 4. Sixteen parents (59.26%) said they read with their child(ren) for about 15 minutes each time. Three parents (11.11%) read less than 15 minutes each time. Seven parents (25.93%) said they read about 30 minutes with their child(ren). Only one parent (3.7%) read at least an hour with his/her child(ren). The responses indicate that only a small portion of parents are actively involved in the reading activities. It could be argued that some of the children are too young to be ready for a story. They might be easily attracted to toys and other staff while their parents are reading to them, so the parents have to end the readings early.

Question 6: Does this program help you choose other books for your child(ren)? If so, how?

Three parents skipped the question. One possible explanation is that these three parents feel the program is not helpful in choosing other books for their child(ren), so they don't think it's necessary to put down any notes here. Another possibility is that they think typing takes time and they don't want to spend too much time with the survey.

Based on the content analysis of the twenty-four comments, four parents do not think the program is helping them to choose other books for their child(ren). Some of the parents think that the program introduces new authors to them, and they would buy books of the same author for their child(ren). Others states the program helps identify what kind of books are interesting to their child(ren), and after getting a clue what types of books their child(ren) love, they would purchase more for them. The responses show that many parents are learning to choose books for their child(ren) based on child(ren) feedbacks toward mailed books. The program is especially useful for those first parents who have no clue what books to choose for their child(ren).

Question 7: How satisfied are you with the program?

Most (81.48%) of the parents are very satisfied with the program. Four parents (14.81%) are relatively satisfied with the program. And only one parent (3.70%) is somewhat satisfied with the program. No parents are barely satisfied with the program. This question was expected to help identify general attitudes toward the program from the parents. The responses indicate that parents are satisfied with the program at varied levels.

Question 8: Will you introduce this program to your friends/colleagues/family members?

Based on the responses drawn from the last question, it might not be surprising that all participants (100%) said that they would recommend the program to people they know. The answers indicate that personal recommendation would be a good strategy to advertise the program.

Question 9: Do you think the program enhances your child(ren)'s reading skills? Why?

All of the parents agree that the program is helpful in enhancing their child(ren)'s reading skills. Besides that, a couple of parents expressed other thoughts about program. One of the parents maintained that most of mailed books are age-appropriate, while some of the books are "a little too advanced for the targeted age groups". Likely, another parent said "it doesn't seem like the books are for the right age group. Most of the time it's about 6 months off." However, the program coordinator Danielle Velez said that they "do not have any control over the books that are chosen" (through personal communication with Danielle, Apr. 23). So it seems like that Knox County Public Library (KCPL) has nothing can do with the mailed books. They are responsible of entering children's names in the book order system, then the Dollywood Foundation pulls the list of names and sends them to a mail house that pulls the books from the publisher and mails them out all over the country (through personal communication with Danielle, Apr. 23). Danielle also informed that sometimes the mail house also uses a Blue Ribbon panel of educators to choose the books.

Question 10: Do you have any specific suggestions for the program?

The system received twenty-two answers for this question. Five respondents skipped the question probably because either they don't want to take time to type out answers or they don't have any suggestions in mind yet. Among the parents who answered the question, most didn't give advice because they think the program works well. Several parents gave specific suggestions on the mailed book. Parent A said that he/she prefers to have options about the book received, such as board books vs. normal paper books. Another two respondents (B and C) also noted that they prefer board books to page books because board books are more durable for young babies. Parent A and D said that they hope the program to avoid sending duplicate books. Parent E and F stated that some of the content in the mailed books have adversely impacted the behavior of their chid(ren). And they think these books should not have been chosen. Parent G also recommend a preview of mailed books because he/she found several flaw pages in the books. He/She also suggested seeking a method to have unwrapped and discarded books delivered to other children. Several parents commented that some of the books are not age-appropriate and their children are not ready for those books with advanced content. In terms of the communication channel with the program, parent H said he/she is not receiving the corresponding emails for each new book like he/she did in the beginning.

According to the collected answers, it can be concluded that parents are very careful about what their children would read in the mailed books. Children under age 5 are in an early development stage. They not only learn new words from books, they also tend to imitate the behaviors of characters in books.

6.2 Improvement strategies: Present a plan for improvement strategies to implement in relation to the selected service for the PL to follow based on the data that you collected during this study. Develop a categorization scheme for the improvement strategies under different headings as appropriate (e.g., web representation, training, marketing to users, etc.).

Marketing: It seems like the program has been doing a good job in marketing. There are a variety ways for parents to learn about the program. Many parents signed the registration form as soon as they gave birth to their new child. According to previous research, it has been found that not all eligible children have been with the program. To encourage more parents to have their children registered, they could host book exhibitions from time to time in the Market Square or shopping malls where people are populated, so that parents would know what their children would possibly learn and get from the mailed books. It might also be very useful for the library to conduct a research on which marketing strategy would be most attractive to parents.

Communication: Before the survey administrated through the Internet, the program coordinator discussed the survey with the program committee. And some of the members wish to add questions like “how often do you read with your children and how long do you read each time”. It might be guessed from the question that the program is missioned to make children learn something from the books and have fun with them. In this process, the role parents are playing is crucial. Although most parents read books to children everyday, but about 70% parents only read with children for fifteen minutes or less each time. It may be argued that parents do not have much time left for book readings with children because they have work or chores to deal with every. But it might also possible that most parents are not aware of the importance of the storytime yet. In this case, the library may want to include links of articles addressing the importance of reading with children, or they can have selected writers to do speech about that in book festivals. Besides, in order to hear from parents, it's necessary to establish a feedback platform so that the library would be able to see what improvement they can make in the future. Another possible method is that the library can conduct an online survey once or twice a year, which won't cost as much as handling print surveys to parents.

Product improvement: According to the collected answers, some parents suggest a preview of mailed books to make sure the books are age-appropriate without flaw pages. They also suggest the program provides options for them to choose between board books and regular paper books. Although the program coordinator stated that they don't have any control of the books or mailing. It might be feasible for them to seek a way to communicate with the Dollywood Foundation about these feedbacks. And then Dollywood Foundation could consider develop new methods in choosing appropriate books for target children.

6.3 Report findings to your PL and provide feedback about their response to your findings.

The report findings and response forms have been sent to the program coordinator via email. The program coordinator replied that she is very glad to hear about the survey responses. She said that the library is glad to see parents are satisfied with their program. She informed that they are about to begin a targeted marketing research through a grant they just received, and the library would make effort in improving the program and attracting more children and parents.

6.4 Critique your process: Discuss and report your process while conducting user-centered assessment in your evaluation action plan and include your observations, what worked and did not work, obstacles and challenges, etc. Provide a discussion of the most interesting facts that emerged during the process.

It was a pleasure to see that the library permitted the survey to be sent to their patrons. The original survey was sent to the program coordinator before it was administrated. And she looked up the survey with other program committee members. They then gave suggestion to the survey questions. If had a chance to do a similar assessment, the survey designer would talk to the program coordinator first to see what they would want to know from participants, which would be very helpful in designing questions.

Moreover, it has proved that the online survey system is very efficient and cost saving. Within two days, the system has received twenty-eight responses, which benefit following data analysis. In comparison, handling a print survey would take at least one week to distribute and collect results. Besides, a BASIC account in SurveyMonkey would cost no money while fees have to be paid if the survey questionnaires would be in print.

During the data analysis, as has been mentioned above, some parents skipped open-ended questions for a variety of possible reasons, while those parents who answered these questions reported important feedbacks and gave invaluable suggestions that might be very useful for the library to refer to when making an improvement plan. So it might be reasonable to make a change to the survey design, such as make the system doesn't allow parents to get to the next question if they fail to answer questions. However, it's also important to find other effective ways of hearing from parents (see the Improvement Strategies above).

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341