Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who creates those surveys, anyway?

I just finished the California Public Libraries Survey that my local library system had on its website. This is a state-wide survey, as evident from both the title and the list of geographical areas available in a drop-down menu at the "where is the library you go to " question.

Based on a couple of questions, including the last one, (had I heard of some named online live reference site -- the name escapes me and I can't get back into the survey,) its main aim seems to be to determine an interest in 24/7 online reference access.

Given that interest, you would think it might include a question asking if web access is available in the home, but no, it didn't. In fact, one question assumed you had internet access in your home. I think the surveyors missed a chance to get some information on home-based web access, by geographical area, age, and income, all info asked for by the survey.

The question that seriously annoyed me, however, had to do with what type of material one uses when one visits the library. It had a lengthy list, including fiction, non-fiction, magazines/newspapers/articles, and various specific categories of non-fiction, plus ebooks and electronic databases. So far, so good. However, the respondent could only choose one. What? The surveyors apparently think that persons going to a library go only for one purpose -- no mixing picking up the latest mystery and looking for consumer info. (Which, in any event, was not a category.)

Hence my question: who writes those surveys?

I answered the question on types of materials used by choosing "other," which had a box into which one could enter something, so I entered "why can't I choose more than one thing? Now the surveyors know who writes those answers.


david silver said...

"However, the respondent could only choose one."


for me, one of the best things about libraries is that they offer so many things to do.

anonlibraryuser said...

I just took the survey.

The survey needs text boxes to be of any use. My library offers some good online databases that I can access from home. Answering "Strongly disagree" to "I would like to see my local library expand their online services to allow the public to be able to access them over the Internet" doesn't convey the fact that I'm happy with what they offer.

And then, what's with "Refused" as an option for information about me. ? "Decline to state" or "Refuse to say" would be more understandable.

I just don't see how this survey will result in any usable statistics.