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Benefits Of Subject Librarian Services


Task: 1. To establish, then summarise student perspectives on the Subject Librarian service.
2. To establish student awareness of the benefits of the Subject Librarians service as part of their undergraduate studies.
3. To identify the factors that affect student decisions about whether to seek and use the Subject Librarians service.
4. To propose a clear campaign (with campaign messages) to increase the take-up of students using the Subject Librarians service.
After undertaking research into how focus groups are conducted, address the following questions linked to the client brief:
1. Identify and justify which research objective(s) would be most suitable to be researched using a focus group.
2. Give a detailed account of how a focus group(s) would be conducted (how would respondents be chosen, would each focus group have the same mix of respondents, how many focus groups would be held etc.).
3. Lastly, summarise the main benefits and drawbacks of using focus groups as a data collection method, in comparison to traditional surveys, for meeting the client brief.


1. Research Objectives for Focus Group
The main objective of the study is to explore the various aspects related to subject librarian services. It can be said that focus groups can be one of the most significant way for collecting feedback. Furthermore, focus group has also been a dominant form with regards to the qualitative data collection in the entire market research. Focus group research will be used for improving the subject librarian services (Brewerton, 2011).

The following are some of the research objectives that would be most suitable to be researched using a focus group.

  • The ways by which the subject librarians are delivering the most effective services on all fronts. It will be one of the main research objectives and the core services will be researched using the focus group and the most effective services will be considered
  • The ways by which faculties see a positive impact upon the students from the involvement of the librarian. With the help of focus group some of the questions will be formed that will be measuring the impact of the individual assistance for the students in terms of the faculty consultation and library instruction with a librarian planning a course assignment. This objective is selected for showcasing the benefits of the subject librarian services
  • To analyse why some of the faculties do not use services with the help of the focus group. This objective is selected because when the subject librarian services will be introduced and at that time if the faculties do not use it then it will not be successful. This objective will not only measure the support services but will analyse the reason why some of the faculties do not use services (Hui, 2011).
  • To understand why there is a gap between awareness and using the services. This particular objective will highlight the awareness as well as gap with the help of the focus group and with the help of this the services can be made much more effective.

2. What are the ways to conduct focus groups for subject librarian services?
The focus group can be conducted in different manner. However, in simple terms it can be said that focus group is simply a matter of asking some of the questions as well as recording the responses to these questions. The following are some of the ways by which focus group will be formed:

  • Reviewing the purpose of the group as well as the goals of the meeting
  • Going over the flow of the meeting and how it will be proceeding along with that how the focus group members will be contributing. The ground rules will be spread and open participation will be encouraged
  • Asking a general question about the subject librarian services and it will be a general question as well as specific. Both of the questions will be asked before the group ends
  • It will be ensured that all the opinions on that question get a chance to be heard

The method that will be used for forming and conducting a focus group will be done with the help of purposive sampling method. This means that while conducting the focus group the participants that will be selected will provide with best information and help meet the purpose of UCB of opening a library. There are many methods for selecting the respondents, however; the main selection criteria for these respondents will directly be dependent on the purpose and objective to be met for the client (Gill et al., 2008). This is because this is the best way to collect appropriate result from the focus group. The following criteria has to be considered when choosing the respondents:

  • The respondent have some knowledge about how library works
  • The respondent will consider themselves knowledgeable enough for promoting subject librarian services
  • The respondent will be able to respond to questions of the individuals with regards to the subject librarian services.
  • The respondents have taken subject librarian services sometime or the other during their subject course.
  • The respondents that are able to strongly present their views about a topic in a group.

However, nationality wills not be a determinant of whether respondents could be chosen neither their national background.

Yes, each focus group will have the same mix of respondents that is the intended the focus group participants planned for collecting the information are subject teachers and subject students. The only difference be that the students in two groups will be from four different subjects each.

The entire focus group method used for collecting data there will be 2 types of focus group for this study. Firstly, the two-way focus groups and in this one group will be watching another group answering the focus group questions (Stewart and Shamdasani, 2014). Secondly, there will be mini focus group and it will consist of 8-12 participants but it may vary.

3. Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Focus Groups
Focus groups are seen to have a number of advantages based on the subject librarian services in collecting data as compared to survey method. It is seen that it is useful to obtain information about personal feelings and perception of the participants face to face without much chances of confusion and doubt. This is not possible in a survey where the respondent is just asked to fill the survey sent to them. Moreover, focus group proves to give a broad range of information on the perception of the students on librarian service, which is not possible from a survey method as detailed discussion will not take place in a survey. Moreover, focus group will be an effective area to seek clarification on various things if there is any doubts regarding the quality of librarian service given to student (Barbour, 2008). Whereas, in a survey students will only be asked to fill the survey and it will be difficult to ask for any kind of clarification from them. These things make a focus group more effective and a better way of data collection then a survey method.

Even though focus group is more efficient compared to survey when collecting data on librarian service, yet there are some drawbacks also that this method of data collection faces. Collecting data from focus group will be a time consuming process as open discussion takes place, whereas in a survey the students will only have to fill the survey without much counter discussions. Moreover, during the focus group process there are chances of disagreements and irrelevant discussion among the focus group participants that might distract the major focus of the group away from subject librarian service. This is not possible in a survey because there are planned questions related to the subject and the participant’s needs to answer each. This makes the focus group give an inaccurate and error in the overall result if discussions are not conducted in relation to the objectives. Moreover, using a focus group for collecting information about awareness of the student about the subject librarian service and the benefits this service has on the students will fail to give effective result because such groups are difficult to control and tricky to analyse (Stewart and Shamdasani, 2014). This is not seen in a survey because the questions are limited and there are only one fixed answer given by the participants.

Barbour, R. (2008). Doing focus groups. Sage.

Brewerton, A. (2011). '... and any other duties deemed necessary': an analysis of subject librarian job descriptions. Sconul Focus, (21), 60-67.

Gill, P., Stewart, K., Treasure, E., & Chadwick, B. (2008). Methods of data collection in qualitative research: interviews and focus groups. Subject librarian services British dental journal, 204(6), 291-295.

Hui, H. (2011). Comparison of the Subject Librarian Service in the University Libraries at Home and Abroad [J]. Journal of Modern Information, 4.

Stewart, D. W., & Shamdasani, P. N. (2014). Focus groups: Theory and practice (Vol. 20). Sage publications.


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