About the Perceptions Survey

Article excerpt

Abstract

Chapter 1 details the methodology of the Perceptions survey and notes its limits; readers are encouraged not to base decisions solely on the content of this report, Chapter 1 also outlines the findings of the remaining chapters.

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For the last four years, Marshall Breeding has conducted an online survey to measure satisfaction with multiple aspects of the automation products used by libraries. The results of the four editions of the survey data, along with brief interpretive narratives, have been published on Library Technology Guides. This issue of Library Technology Reports will take a deeper look at the survey data, including an expansion of findings based on the 2010 iteration, an examination of trends seen across the four years, and additional analysis not previously published. For this report, the survey data have been extended with additional fields that provide the opportunity to separate the findings into categories that show some interesting trends not otherwise apparent.

Goals of the Survey

Why conduct this survey? In this time of tight budgets where libraries face difficult decisions regarding how to invest their technology resources, it's helpful to have data regarding how libraries perceive the quality of their automation systems and the companies that support them. This report, based on survey responses from more than two thousand libraries, aims to give some measure of how libraries perceive their current environment and to probe their inclinations for the future, as well as investigating trends that have emerged over the four years of the Perceptions survey.

Some libraries may refer to the results of this survey as they formulate technology strategies or even consider specific products. Libraries are urged not to base any decision solely on this report. While it reflects the responses of a large number of libraries using these products, this survey serves best as an instrument to guide what questions a library might bring up in its considerations. We caution libraries not to make premature conclusions based on subjective responses. Especially for libraries with more complex needs, it's unrealistic to expect satisfaction scores at the very top of the rankings. Large and complex libraries exercise all aspects of an automation system and at any given time may have outstanding issues that would naturally result in survey responses short of the highest marks.

How the Data Were Collected

The survey instrument included six numeric ratings, three yes/no responses, three short response fields, and a text field for general comments. The numeric rating fields allow responses from 0 through 9. Each scale was labeled to indicate the meaning of the numeric selection.

Five of the numeric questions probe at the level of satisfaction with and loyalty to the company or organization that provides its current automation system:

* How satisfied is the library with your current Integrated Library System?

* How satisfied is the library overall with the company from which you purchased your current ILS?

* How satisfied is this library with this company's customer support services?

* Has the customer support for your ILS gotten better or gotten worse in the last year?

* Would your library consider working with this company again if your library were to migrate to a new ILS in the future?

One yes/no question asks whether the library is considering migrating to a new ILS and a fill-in text field provides the opportunity to provide specific systems under consideration. Another yes/no question asks whether the automation system currently in use was installed on schedule and according to the terms of the contract.

Given the recent interest in new search interfaces, a third yes/no question asks, "Is this library currently considering acquiring a discovery interface or Next-generation catalog for its collection that is separate from the ILS? …