Reference Librarian LSUHSC - New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana
Background: In librarianship, as in most other social sciences, surveys have become the default method of acquiring information about a target population. For libraries though, little research has been done as to how to administer questionnaires efficiently. By building on previous research, this poster looks at how response rate and how response similarity differ across two modes of survey administration to populations with the same demographics, i.e. students just beginning a graduate program at a school of public health.
Methods: In the 2017 Fall Semester, new School of Public Health affiliates registered with the library. Afterward, those new registrants were recruited to participate in a semester long research project that sought to understand their experiences and expectations with library resources. Electronic questionnaires were sent out monthly, and respondents were given a $5 gift card per questionnaire completed. Of the 39 affiliates approached to participate, 15 completed the entire battery of questionnaires – 4 questionnaires in total. This project sough to find a more efficient way of collecting the same information. For the 2019 Fall Semester, the current research protocol was far simpler than the previous one. There were two data collection events: at new student orientation and at the end of a mandatory first semester class. Also data collection occurred in-person with paper administered questionnaires. The questionnaires were pared down to a single piece of paper in order to facilitate easier physical management of the materials.
Results: In the 2017 analysis, at the beginning of the semester 27 SPH students responded to the electronically administered questionnaire. In 2019, 23 responded to the in-person administration of the survey during orientation. This represents a response rate of 92% in 2019 and 68% in 2017. Analysis from this first administration shows differences between the 2017 and 2019 groups. Mostly the 2017 group expected to use quiet spaces more, according to the initial administration. In the later administrations, reported usage of library resources showed an increase in the library’s database subscriptions in 2019; there was no corresponding increase for e-books. Other differences, such as difficulties experienced, were minor.
Discussion: When possible, in-person administration is preferable. Paper yielded similar results as electronic administration with a higher response rate. The differences noted could possibly be explained by changes in library operations and in SPH curriculum. More research is needed into the effects of in-person electronic administration to maintain response rate but to lessen the post-processing burden.