By Marsha McDevitt-Stredney, Director, Marketing & Communications
We recently requested feedback from our readers about The News in order to monitor its quality and value to the library community. We are pleased to announce that 249 individuals participated in the survey. Thank you to everyone that took the time to share your opinion and suggestions for The News. Before analyzing the survey results, I took a retrospective look at a selection of issues throughout the past fifty years of The News. As you will see, the name (News, State Library of Ohio News, The News), format and content evolved within the technological capabilities, leadership, and the field of library and information science over time.
The July 5, 1978 issue of the News features the appointment of Richard M. Cheski as the new State Librarian of Ohio. By this time, the newsletter included photographs, graphics, State Library Board reports, details about grant opportunities, and monthly reports on government documents, workshops and seminars, and a column titled Ohio Libraries Reach Out to the Handicapped.
By July/August 1998, the State Library had a website and regularly distributed additional publications and information bulletins under the leadership of State Librarian Michael S. Lucas. Over time, the focus of the News changed from short announcements and reports of publications and statistics to detailed monthly State Library Board reports and articles about library budgets, commissions, legislation, programs and services.
In 2005, the January issue of the NEWS was the beginning of a new format where each month would feature a theme. It also marked the beginning of the News as a web-based and print publication. Jo Budler was State Librarian, and in her column she wrote, “The newsletter will continue to provide information about the State Library but will also provide information about the library community. We look forward to hearing from you about your library and your customers. We would like to feature stories of special services, the application of cutting–edge technology, and stories of how Ohio libraries of all types are providing exemplary service to their customers.” By September 2005, the News was an online only newsletter and no longer published in print.
The News Today
While planning the 2011 themes, the committee recommended a survey to get feedback from our readers. A link to the survey was included in last month’s newsletter and an invitation to participate in the survey was posted to numerous Ohio library related listservs.
Nine responded with comments when asked “If you were unsatisfied with the delivery method, how would you prefer to receive it?” One responded that they didn’t know it existed. Of the 3.4% that are dissatisfied with the delivery method, most would prefer that it be available either in paper format or in a format that is easier to print from the online version. There were concerns about the file size filling up email boxes and the format getting garbled when opening the emailed version. Another concern was the number of clicks it takes to get to the newsletter. 20 individuals skipped the question.
When asked to rate their satisfaction with the layout & navigation of the newsletter, 65% of respondents were satisfied, 18% were very satisfied, 8% were dissatisfied, and 8% were undecided. 20 individuals skipped the question.
Only 2.2% were dissatisfied with the quality of writing. When asked about the relevancy of themes and articles to their work, 14% were very satisfied, 69% were satisfied and 7% were not satisfied. 21 individuals skipped the relevancy question. 33 individuals skipped the quality question.
Themes that were of greatest interest in 2010 included the Libraries Coping with Budget Cuts (69%), Social Media, Networking, and Web Meetings with Libraries (49%), School Libraries and Public Libraries Collaboration (47%), Digital Media Collections/Virtual Library Services (42%), and Summer Reading Programs (39%). 46 individuals skipped the question.
Many were either satisfied with their ability to submit information and articles for inclusion in the newsletter, or didn’t reply. The 57% majority responded with N/A, and 36 individuals skipped the question.
43% of respondents forward articles to colleagues when the theme is relevant to their work and 46% never forward articles to colleagues. 37 individuals skipped the question.
For those that do forward articles, 45% forward them to volunteers or friends of the library, 40% to pubic services staff, 15% to administration, and 15% to support services staff. 78 individuals skipped the question.
The majority (81%) of respondents replied that the newsletter does effectively provide information of interest to Ohio libraries. We received 28 comments on suggestions for themes. The topics ranged from more themes about school libraries, more academic libraries, and more about the State Library to library programming and services, trends in technology, and important issues facing libraries today. Not surprisingly, the school library staff preferred articles about school libraries, academic library staff about academic libraries, and so on.
The newsletter committee is in the process of reviewing the survey results and will be discussing what adjustments can be incorporated into the 2011 issues. I am working with our IT department to review formatting and printing options. We will strive to be more diligent in our efforts to solicit articles from all types of libraries for each theme. I have also created a PDF for each article in this newsletter for printing.
Once again, a special thank you to the 249 individuals that provided feedback on The News. The survey results, including all comments, are attached and available for download as a PDF.