Library Juice Academy

Online Professional Development for Librarians

Getting to Know Your Users through Interviews and Focus Groups

Instructor: Jennifer Sweeney

Dates: Not currently scheduled

Credits: 1.5 CEUs

Price: $175

How do we know what our library users are thinking? Listen to their stories! The purpose of interviewing is to discover the in-depth experiences and perceptions of others—just what we need to know about our ever-changing clients. This course provides participants with the basics in good interviewing techniques and tips, including interview structure, length, and interviewer demeanor. Participants will learn how to ask the right questions and follow up smoothly to gather more detail. Participants will learn how to interpret and report respondents’ stories reliably and accurately, and to recognize and correct interviewer bias. The course will provide readings, exercises, discussion, and online resources.

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize fitting topics for interviews, and select suitable respondents
  • Understand how to make contact and establish rapport with potential respondents
  • Design interview questions, and understand how to order questions and follow up for best effect
  • Implement typical best practices in conducting interviews
  • Interpret and report interview data accurately and reliably.

This course is part of our Painless Research Series, which provides an overview of basic research techniques needed by library managers and other staff in different workplace sectors, such as service quality, customer satisfaction, and operational metrics, or in specific tools such as surveys and focus groups. Participants develop skills in formulating typical research questions and strategies, making use of existing studies and data, collecting and analyzing data, and tailoring presentations for different audiences.

Jennifer Sweeney

Jennifer Sweeney teaches at the College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University, and is a program evaluation consultant for libraries and other public agencies and nonprofits. Prior to joining Drexel, Dr. Sweeney developed measurement instruments for K-16 educational interventions for the University of California, Davis School of Education, and provided evaluation services for the California Center for the Book, the California Library Association, and Smith & Lehmann Consulting. Previously, she was library analyst at the UC Davis Library, reference librarian at the American University Library in Washington, DC, and business librarian with Cost Engineering Research, Inc. in Arlington, VA. Interview with Jennifer Sweeney

Course Structure

This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.

Payment Info

Please contact us to arrange a special session of this class for a group of seven or more, with a negotiable discount, or to be notified when it is next scheduled.