In November 2017, NNLM PSR conducted a communication assessment to help direct the RML’s communication plan to effectively meet Network members’ needs and expectations, and assist the RML to understand where improvements might be made. The questionnaire was promoted on the PSR-News announcement list and the various MLA chapter listservs in the region. Eighty-two Network members completed the survey with information and valuable feedback.
Overall, results were encouraging and suggested that our work does make a difference for health sciences librarians and information centers in the region, as illustrated by the roughly 94% of respondents who agreed that the RML is effective in improving awareness of or access to biomedical information resources, and nearly the same percentage agreeing that the RML is effective in improving awareness of NLM and NNLM services (training, funding, news, etc.). Following are additional highlights and themes from the questionnaire results.
Which libraries responded?
The majority of respondents were either academic health sciences libraries or hospital libraries.
NNLM PSR Communication Tools
The RML provides information and announcements through multiple channels, including the Latitudes Newsletter, which provides in-depth feature articles of professional interest; the bimonthly Midday at the Oasis Webinar, with a variety of featured speakers highlighting topics such as aging, predatory publishers, drug information services, and community health maps; the NewsBits Blog, which provides brief announcements, upcoming event information, and technology tips; and the PSR-News announcement list, which keeps Network members apprised of breaking developments from the National Library of Medicine, funding opportunities, and other notices. To help you keep up with the content of the Latitudes and NewsBits blogs, titles of postings are announced on a monthly basis in PSR-News.
In addition to these traditional communication channels, we use YouTube, Facebook and Twitter social media tools as other avenues to reach Network members with relevant information and announcements. In addition to unique content, listings from Latitudes and NewsBits are promoted on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook can also be used to post pictures of new library facilities, share success stories at institutions, and discuss professional issues and questions with colleagues from throughout the region and beyond.
In the questionnaire, Network members were asked:
Respondents were required to choose at least three communication channels. Results showed that all communication channels are used, particularly Latitudes (76%), Midday at the Oasis (70%), PSR-News (66%), and the PSR web site (52%).
To rate the quality of information, a matrix or rating scale was used with 1 being the most positive (Excellent), 2 (Good), 3 (Poor), and 4 (Don’t Know/Don’t Use). Latitudes and PSR Webinars received the best weighted average for quality of content at 1.68 and 1.70 respectively, followed by PSR-News listserv (1.89) and the website (1.90). Of the respondents who used these four communication tools, 80-88% agreed that the quality of information provided was “Good” or “Excellent.”
To rate the volume of information, the following rating scale was used: 1 being Too Much, 2 (Just Right), 3 (Not Enough) and 4 (Don’t Know/Don’t Use). Latitudes received the best rating with 83% of the respondents indicating the volume was “just right.” This was followed by PSR Webinars (79%), PSR web site (70%), and PSR-News listserv (68%). These results were echoed in the comments section where many respondents indicated that the webinars, newsletters, and listserv announcements were very valuable means of communication. Respondents were also less inclined to access NNLM and NLM information on social media as reflected in both questions; over 85% of the respondents indicated that they “Don’t Know/Don’t Use” Facebook (86%), Twitter (88%) or YouTube (94%). While many of the respondents did not have difficulty accessing or viewing social media sites or instructional videos, over one-quarter of respondents indicated firewall or other restrictions for social media sites and streaming videos.
The most highly rated suggestions for additional social media programs for the RML to adopt were LinkedIn, Skype and Instagram. Other responses included Slack and Google+. Several respondents commented e-mail is the preferred means for professional communication and that we should not use any other means since we cover enough already.
NNLM PSR Award Funding
Network members were also asked if they applied for NNLM PSR award funding in the last five years and if there were any barriers that prevented them from doing so.
Over 60% of respondents indicated that did not apply for funding. Some of the respondents pointed out their programs aren’t suited to dedicating time to public-facing projects or didn’t apply to their library’s needs or capabilities. Others explained that the application process is complicated and expressed needing a mentor or someone with experience or knowledge to make the application process less challenging.
NLM Educational and Print Materials
Additionally, we asked Network members if they have ordered NLM educational and print materials from the RML within the past year.
Over 70% of survey respondents did not order NLM educational and print materials from the RML within the past year. Those who did order used the resources for classes, health fairs, workshops and health clinics. They found the resources invaluable and expressed their love of our service. Those who did not order wished more items were available and suggested that reminders be sent from time to time.
At the end of the questionnaire, we asked Network members to provide additional comments regarding NNLM or NLM programs or services. Network members in the NNLM PSR are overwhelmingly positive about the programs and services available to them. The majority of respondents were very thankful and expressed satisfaction with the overall RML program, particularly the importance of keeping Network members apprised of webinars and other events, resource updates, etc. We extend our thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated in the communication questionnaire! Your feedback is highly appreciated and will help direct the RML’s communication plan to effectively meet your future needs and expectations.