Through gritted teeth

I usually quite enjoy filling out surveys. If the topic of the survey is something that I am concerned about, answering some questions and (especially) filling in the free-text bits can be a good way to vent my feelings. I recently enjoyed telling the powers that be (anonymously of course) what I thought about the room booking system here.
Now I’m seeing it all from the other side – I have created an online questionnaire and have started getting some responses. I realise that sometimes survey responses tell you more about the responder than about the question they are answering.
It is an internal survey to ask our researchers how they use the library and library services, what they think of it and what they need from it in future.
We do have a rough plan – reducing the space given over to print storage; increase the amount of study space; develop more ways to help staff get the best out of information tools; continue to provide as much online access to everything as we can possibly afford – but we want to fine tune it with some input from the users, and verify that there is a body of users who do value what we are proposing.
Of course different people have different needs or even no needs and we are realistic enough to expect quite a range of responses to questions about “Would you value help in setting up subject alerts?” or “Is the Library blog useful?”. But one or two responses made me see red. I had to go away and sit down quietly for a bit to recover my composure.
One respondent suggested that we had a library blog just because someone thought it was “cool”, but that’s not what blogs are for and we are all out of touch with the real world and the internet. I know that petulance is never an attractive character trait, but this response made me want to stamp my little foot and say “Up yours Mr Clever-clogs-know-it-all!” But I’m much too professional to give in to such feelings. I’ll just blog about it instead, even though I’m out of touch with the real world and the internet.
Well, I have recovered now (I think), and feel a bit sorry for that respondent in their splendid state of unknowing. As more survey responses have come in we are seeing a more well-rounded picture emerge, and my faith in human nature has been restored. What that response has taught me though is that I need to put still more effort into communicating about what the Library offers its users – though perhaps not via a blog.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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7 Responses to Through gritted teeth

  1. Heather Etchevers says:

    chuckle
    I wonder what Mr Clever thought blogs were for, instead?

  2. Frank Norman says:

    In my calmer moments I can guess at what they were thinking. I suspect they see blogs as a force for radicalism, giving a voice to the previously voiceless and opening up communication to those with something important to say – the activist blogger.
    I just see a blog as a website, and agree with Jay Rosen that a blogger is just a writer. He suggests that “blogger” is becoming so broad it is almost meaningless.

  3. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Sounds like you need to come on down to FringeFrivolous – we have a whole session on this very topic.

  4. Sabbi Lall says:

    Now that’s just annoying, but at least you’re getting other feedback.

  5. Frank Norman says:

    Jenny – sadly I will be away all weekend, starting Friday, living it up in Rye.

  6. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Pity. But if one had to be living it up, Rye is as good as place as any! Have a nice time and we’ll report back.

  7. Richard Wintle says:

    Are you sure you don’t mean ‘living it up with Rye‘?
    And I have my blog only because it is cool(1). 100% fact.(2)
    (1)not
    (2)with very small values for ‘100’

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