Competency N

evaluate programs and services on specified criteria;

Libraries and librarians have a constituency to serve in either the public or private sector. Because of this fact, the libraries need to be accountable for their funding, so there needs to be evaluation of the services and programs offered. When reviewing the work and evidence for this project, it became clear the work is interdependent. For example, evaluation of programs and services comes from understanding research and what the survey will accomplish as well as how to rate the responses. Without knowing about how percentages and sample groups work, the evaluation could be misleading to the library into believing the change has been successful. Evaluation is also a part of synthesizing ideas from many writers and coming up with original ideas and viewpoints, which is part of the writing process. In order to write research papers or reviews or critiques of the library science literature, the student needs be able to evaluate. Of course, these evaluation skills are not only used for reviewing programs but being able to practice the skill in other mediums hones it.

For evidence, I am submitting group work on a survey done for a research class. In this group, the charge was to review the deaf population to discover if their digital reference needs were being met. The idea was to evaluate needs and to make improvements. The project guise was the Deaf Patron Task Force of Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) and the target audience was libraries who offer digital reference services. The assignment was to keep the questionnaire short and under ten questions. For the project, the entire group worked on designing and working out the wording of the questions. Since I was more inclined to, I formatted and designed the final questionnaire in a PDF format. This group met several times in person as well as on Elluminate to do our collaboration. The project was successful in that I learned more about creating a survey using the techniques described in the research methods class as well as meeting interesting classmates.

The idea of the survey was to discover awareness levels of this particular group of reference users. Ultimately, the ten questions survey was neither detailed enough nor inquisitive enough to be able to make generalizations about the libraries and the deaf populations using those libraries. This observation might not have been clear to me before my studies in research and understanding sample groups. At this point in my education, I have more experience at researching and consolidating what I read and experience. I feel this study is a good example of my beginning on the path of learning how to research more fully and completely. If I was had the opportunity to work on this project again without so many restrictions on questionnaire size, I would turn it into a much larger project. I would like to have had twenty questions as well as asking the participants for more detailed interviewing. For a study of this type, it would make be sensible to sort out likely candidates for further interviewing with a shorter questionnaire. This kind of quantitative research could inform further qualitative research where there is a greater opportunity to interview and fully discuss the question at hand.

The study offered as evidence had a specific assignment constructed as the scenario for creating the questionnaire. Since the studies done on libraries will cost some amount of money, it is vital the questions are pertinent to solving and understanding the actual problem. While working with my group on this particular project it became clear to me, it was tempting to ask too many questions that do not clearly relate to the problem. At the time and now, I feel the temptation to stray from the topic at hand could be a serious problem for survey creators. Because of the cost to create and analyze, surveys should be to the point. Also, the participants should be contributing original information to the study and not having to answer questions unrelated or those with easily discovered answers.

Overall, the skill of evaluating and judging the success or failure of a program or project is necessary for many positions. With librarianship or information professionals, there is the added burden of spending public funding, which adds a level of responsibility not part of a private sector position. I found this to be an interesting aspect of a potential library position and am looking forward to the opportunity to stretch and learn more about evaluation of programs. Even in my current position as a web developer, evaluation of projects is a continuing process. At the moment, I am reviewing previous code and finding ways to improve and prune unneeded lines. This task is simply another expression of evaluating, so there are numerous ways to practice.

Artifacts

Survey questionnaire paper

Team questionnaire