Placing a Value on Public Library Services|
Glen E. Holt, Donald Elliott, and Amonia Moore
HOW THE METHODOLOGY WAS TESTED
Inevitably the calculation of direct benefits had to involve an extensive user survey. The preparation for and carrying out of the survey involved many steps.
Development of Survey Instruments: Use of Focus Groups
To test the Service/User Matrix and to refine the language of the proposed telephone survey, project staff organized some of the library's heaviest users and its best friends into seven focus groups: two with “general users,” two with “teachers and caregivers,” and three with “business users.” The third focus group with business users was necessary to work through difficulties encountered in delimiting questions that would identify anything like a full range of library business uses. Further discussion of problems with business users can be found in the concluding section of this article. Members of the focus groups proved extremely helpful. Group comments helped transform arcane library terms into easier-to-understand terms (e.g., "audiovisual" became "videos," "CDs," and "audio or music tapes;” "outreach services” became "visits to daycare centers"). Focus group participants also offered good advice on how to get the most accurate answers from survey questions. To enhance the validity of the focus groups, SIUE Marketing Department graduate students facilitated the group discussions. SLPL staff observed indirectly over closed-circuit television. They were not present to influence focus groups to speak in positive ways about library services.