You Can Q! Using Q Method to Understand Community Needs for Small Libraries

Mary Wilkins Jordan, Assistant Professor, Simmons College GSLIS (MA)
What is Q Method? Not widely known in the library field yet, this is a research method that lets you reach out to patrons in a new way to get their opinions on your services, materials, and/or programming. After developing a set of ideas you want to get feedback on from your community, you might be tempted to try sending out a survey and asking people to rate everything on a scale from one to five. But this is boring! And the results are ultimately not as useful as they could be in helping you to make decisions. Q Method is a forced-ranking process, where your patrons have to make decisions about things they like more and like less. Then you run everything through a statistical program, and end up with reams of interesting and useful data you can use to impress your stakeholders with all your evidence-based decision making!

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