Three Thousand Library Users Can’t Be Wrong: Demonstrating Library Impact Using One Open-Ended Survey Question
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Librarians seeking to balance quantitative value measures with qualitative methods should consider the inclusion of critical incident technique (CIT) questions into their library value inquiries. Even the addition of one well-conceived CIT question in a larger survey question pool can provide valuable stories in users’ own words describing the impact of the library’s services, resources, and spaces on teaching, learning, and research at their institution. This chapter will discuss the CIT question used by one large, multi-campus public research library to elicit over 3,000 undergraduate student, graduate student, and faculty responses: “Tell us in a few sentences about a time that Libraries staff, services, resources, or spaces had a positive impact on your academic work.” Taken as a whole, the comments point to the impact of library staff, spaces, and services on faculty and students, while individual responses can serve as callouts within larger reports and provide depth and description necessary to understand other quantitative results.
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