Focus groups for graduate students: a needs assessment

Mindy Thuna, University of Toronto Mississauga

Have you ever run a focus group? Let me tell you, it is not easy to a) get enough people to come (although food helps.. a lot.. but that, of course, requires money) b) find dates and times when people who MIGHT be coerced into coming will actually show up and c) facilitate a conversation, i.e. no talking or expressing an opinion or raising an eyebrow. All that aside, between December 6, 2010 and January 6, 2011, I ran 5 focus groups for graduate students at the UTM campus of the University of Toronto. In each 2 hour session I facilitated a conversation between from 4 to 10 students in both professional and doctoral stream programs to assess their information needs and wants as part of a larger graduate student needs assessment on library services and spaces that I am currently completing. I heard ranting, compliments, tales of woe and disappointment and forced them to draw pictures. I encouraged them to eat more and to talk more about where and how they find information to fulfill their scholarly needs. This pecha kucha will focus on the preliminary analysis of the results of these focus groups.

Hear @ Buffalo: The Poetry Collection’s Audio Migration Project

James Maynard, University at Buffalo, SUNY

In 2009, the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, received a $202,241 Preservation and Access grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a two-year project to reformat, catalog and make accessible 1,000+ cassette and reel-to-reel audio recordings of poetry materials dating back to the early 1960s. Capturing poetry readings, lectures, interviews, conferences and other literary events, these tapes document the development of innovative and avant-garde poetries and their communities throughout the second half of the twentieth century as well as Buffalo’s role within that history. Readings by both canonical and non-canonical poets are featured in the collection, including such prominent American and international figures as John Ashbery, Robert Bly, Basil Bunting, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Graves, Denise Levertov, Robert Lowell, Frank O’Hara, Charles Olson, George Oppen, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Diane Wakoski and Louis Zukofsky.

This session will provide an overview of the audio migration project in general—its technical, cataloging, and copyright challenges—while highlighting its most innovative and creative aspects (which, I believe, are what secured us the NEH grant in the first place).

What can we learn from campus leaders, quickly?

Rea Devakos, University of Toronto

This session reports on a focus group methodology built on Dervin’s Sense Making communication methodology. Unlike many focus group and other qualitative research methods, this approach delivers in depth, reliable data quickly. Originally piloted by Dr. Dervin at Ohio State, it has been used at the University of Toronto to study information seeking amongst leaders of student journals. Informal campus leaders, including students, are seldom studied by libraries. Yet they are often deeply engaged in the institution and influence the actions and perceptions of others. The session will outline the methodology and highlight a few key results.

The Cummings Library and Collaboratory

Kathy Hicks, Mohawk College

The Cummings Library and Collaboratory opened at Mohawk College in January, 2011. The Collaboratory is an innovative and unique destination space where students, faculty and staff collaborate on projects that blend learning with creativity. Students and staff are inspired to use technology to explore, inquire, discover, learn and create! Our new space has given us the opportunity to work closely with students and faculty in various college departments to create exciting projects and services. In this Pecha Kucha , I will showcase some of the collaborative initiatives that we have launched to date such as daily tech talks, student music concerts, student-generated digital displays, faculty events and more!

Join your users in mobile spaces

Sarah Forbes, University of Toronto Scarborough

An increasing number of students and faculty are accessing and interacting with information through portable electronic devices such as e-readers, smartphones and tablets. Find out how University of Toronto Libraries are joining their users in mobile spaces through staff professional development opportunities, technology lending projects, e-content delivery and application sharing.

Can QR codes help our library users find needed resources?

Kathy Szigeti, University of Waterloo

A QR Code is a specific barcode readable by camera phones. They can be used to display text to the user, to add a vCard contact to the user’s device, to open a URI or to compose an email or text message. QR codes can provide useful content at the time of need.

They are being implemented by businesses and libraries.

I will show how libraries use the code and specifically a pilot project that we at uWaterloo would like to implement.

Here is why I think this is innovative:

The “ACRL 2010 top ten trends in academic libraries” predicts “explosive growth of mobile devices and applications will drive new services.” The widespread use of QR codes could surely be a part of that.

The blockquote is from C&RL News. QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users. By Robin Ashford. http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/10/526.full. The quote within it is from: ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee, “2010 top ten trends in academic libraries: A review of the current literature,” C&RL News 71, 6 (June 2010): 286–92.