Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Thursday, July 08, 2004
LIBR 528 Research Methods: Week One Notes  
Hey, I'm back to posting my rough thoughts for each week's class here. Probably of zero interest to anyone who isn't me.

LIBR 528: Research Methods

Week One: Introduction to LIM Research

Exercise Two – List of Problems for a government library

  • How are staff using the current awareness bulletin? What items are especially interesting, or not?

  • Are staff using the electronic databases to which we subscribe? How effective are their searches?

  • How would staff use of the library improve if the catalogue was available for them to search via the intranet?

  • How can we evaluate the effectiveness of the information provided to staff?

  • Is there an objective measure of the quality of the collection?

  • What aspects of the library do staff consider to be most important? What aspects need most work? (e.g. LibQual).

Exercise Three – Research Priorities for LIM in NZ

1.Why do people not use the library?
2.Which groups of people do not use the library? How could libraries better meet their needs?
3.Are the mainly US devised guidelines for the reference interview suitable for use in NZ?
4.How effective is the ILL system as operated by NZ?
5.How useful will the introduction of broadband to libraries, via Project PROBE, be?
6.Are libraries successfully helping to bridge the digital divide?
7.What is the place of filtering in the public library? Should libraries provide access to everything, or should they filter objectionable material? Can they do so effectively?
8.How well is the EPIC project serving the needs of users? Is it being marketed correctly?
9.If we're supposed to be information professionals, how come so many of us are unable to follow basic instructions on using mailing lists? Eh? NZ-Libs and NZ-Records, especially?
10.Is there an appropriate budget split between electronic and print resources? Or between expenditure on the collection and on staff?

Unnumbered Question

The most commonly employed research methods are likely to be survey research, case studies, and bibliometrics.

Exercise Four – Choosing a Topic

1. LibQual in a corporate/special library (survey)
advantages: the methodology exists, just need to adapt it.
Hasn't been done before, as far as I know, in this setting
disadvantages: hasn't been done before, so nothing to fall back on
survey – needs a certain number of respondents, can we get this many?

2. Use of electronic databases (historical research)
advantages: easy to get the data, unobtrusively
disadvantages: small sample size, merely looking at usage data doesn't tell us how useful staff found it. Would need to interview people.

3. Use of filtering software in NZ public libraries (survey)
advantages: fairly easy to construct a survey and draw some conclusions from it; little exists in the literature in NZ (I would guess) but the US data is large, even if much of it is anecdotal
disadvantages: response rate? Would this be high enough?

4. A New Zealand context for the reference interview (qualitative)
disadvantages: I have no idea how to go about this
advantages: it would be freaking cool


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