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 Focus Groups

Focus Groups via SCRLC

What is a Focus Group?  

Focus groups are a form of qualitative assessment that can yield valuable, in-depth information and insights about user needs, expectations, or satisfaction with the organization's programs and services.

They are conducted with a small group of people (6-12 per session) with the intention of identifying key perceptions or attitudes. Each session lasts 1-2 hours. The moderator raises several issues/questions that have been prepared ahead of time in conjunction with the organization's director or other staff members. The discussions are recorded to help with the resulting report. All responses are anonymous and the recording is not shared beyond the SCRLC working on the focus group. The recording s deleted after the report has been prepared.

Focus groups can be conducted with a specific sector of users or for an individual program or service in need of assessment. They may be used as a follow-up to a survey that has generated further questions or needs clarity in specific areas.


Why Use a Focus Group?

Focus groups can:

  • provide valuable and detailed information about personal and group feelings, perceptions, and opinions relatively quickly and inexpensively;
  • help identify potential markets, generate new program or service ideas, and reveal areas where problems exist or may develop;
  • clarify areas of a survey that were unclear or in need of more information;
  • offer insights;
  • can stimulate a wide range of ideas and opinions through interaction among participants.

Are There Disadvantages to Using Focus Groups?

  • Focus groups are not a substitute for quantitative data but rather another data point;
  • Irrelevant discussion and disagreements can lead the discussion far off-topic;
  • It can be challenging to get a wide-range of participants, including non-users;
  • Even though the moderator will emphasize that the focus group is confidential, anonymous to the organization, and that what is said should not be repeated outside the meeting, some participants may be reluctant to speak up about issues.

What SCRLC Offers. 

SCRLC staff will conduct focus groups for members.

SCRLC is committed to its mission of leading and advocating for member libraries by promoting learning, collaboration and innovation. Focus groups are a useful method of providing library and cultural organizational leadership with information about user needs, expectations, and satisfaction. The information gleaned in a focus group, which is followed by appropriate action, can lead to greater degrees of organizational excellence and user satisfaction.


Why use SCRLC as a Focus Group Facilitator?

Focus groups should be led by a neutral party outside the organization, i.e., the moderator of a focus group should not be a staff member of the organization since this will inhibit discussion and critical comments. SCRLC staff are neutral but informed about library and cultural organization issues.

SCRLC staff are available to travel to member organizations, have the skill set needed to assist in developing the agenda or outline and are trained in leading group discussions. They will also provide a summary report comprising the focus group findings.

SCRLC keeps all discussion and findings confidential.


What does SCRLC Charge?

SCRLC does not generally charge its members for focus groups; however, if an organization has funds set aside or has been awarded a grant that covers focus groups, SCRLC will accept payment that can be added to its continuing education program.


Additional Information about Focus Groups

More information about focus groups can be found on the Empire State Library Network (ESLN) Assessment LibGuide, which is maintained by SCRLC.


Contact Mary-Carol Lindbloom for more information on this member service.

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 (607) 273-9106

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