1. What’s the research all about?

The information on this page explains what the research is all about and your role if you choose to be a participant.

Research title

Public perceptions of public library services in England, 2009 – 2020: an examination of the perceived effectiveness of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, c.75, Section 7 in the 21st century


Jo McKenna-Aspell: PhD student at the Information School, University of Sheffield

You are being invited to take part in a research project. Before you decide whether or not to participate, it is important for you to understand why the research is being carried out and what it will involve.

If you have any questions about the research or your participation, please contact me: jmckenna-aspell1@sheffield.ac.uk

Purpose of the research

This research is for my PhD thesis in Information Studies. This study has three different stages which work together to help me to explore what the public think about public libraries, including how they are used, managed and legislated. This first stage is specifically looking at how the public value the different services public libraries provide and will focus on West Sussex.

Who will be participating?

Any adult, aged over 18 years, who lives, works or studies in West Sussex is eligible to participate. This is because West Sussex has a statutory duty to provide a public library service to all residents, employees and students in West Sussex. I am interested in the views of those who do and do not use public libraries.

What will I be asked to do?

You will click on a link that takes you to a secure online platform: Qsortouch.

You will then be asked to sort some statements. These statements detail all the services and characteristics a public library service in England can provide. The tasks are designed to find out which services and characteristics you value in a public library service. It may be that your library or the libraries in West Sussex offer some or all of the services or characteristics in the statements. It is important that you sort the statements based on what you value rather than what you are currently able to access in the libraries across West Sussex.

Task 1: you’ll be asked to sort the statements into 3 piles to begin with: disagree, not sure, agree.
Task 2: you’ll then be asked to separate your piles even further so that you have ranked all the statements from most disagree to most agree.

You do this by dragging and dropping the statements. There will be instructions to help you and I have also provided demo videos on the next page.

What are the potential risks of participating?

There are no risks associated with participating as your views are anonymised and no personal data will be collected or stored.

What data will be collected?

  • Qsortouch records where you placed each statement.
  • Qsortouch will record if you are a library user or non-user because each type of participant is provided a different link to the task.
  • Responses are anonymous.

Personal details, such as name, age, postal address or email address, will not be collected. The online platform does not require a login to access the task.

What will happen to the data?

The data (your anonymous placement of the statements) will be stored on secure servers at the University of Sheffield. It will be password protected.

The anonymised data may be used for future research projects by myself, collaborators or other interested parties. Personal data will not be collected and, therefore, cannot be shared.

Will my participation be confidential?

When the data is downloaded from Qsortouch, responses cannot be linked back to you. No other potentially identifying information will be collected as part of the research.

Your participation is voluntary and you are free to withdraw from the research by closing the website, prior to submitting your sorting task, without any negative consequences. After submission, because your data is anonymised, it cannot be isolated to be deleted.

What will happen to the results of the research?

The results of this study will be included in my PhD thesis and may be used in academic articles. Moreover, once the anonymous results have been grouped together, analysed and can be presented in graphic form, I will publish the results on this website. This will enable participants to explore the results and comment, if they wish to do so.

Finally, the analysed outcomes of the data will be shared with West Sussex Library Services.

Who is organising and funding the research?

I, the researcher, am organising the research and will undertake any costs related to the research, such as a subscription to the Qsortouch software. Please note, this research has not been commissioned or funded by West Sussex County Council or West Sussex library service: it is being carried out independently.

Who has ethically reviewed the project?

This project has been ethically approved via the University of Sheffield’s Ethics Review Procedure, as administered by The Information School. The University’s Research Ethics Committee monitors the application and delivery of the University’s Ethics Review Procedure across the University.

What if something goes wrong and I wish to complain about the research?

Should you wish to complain about something that has happened during or following your participation in this research, please contact me. If you feel your complaint has not been handled to your satisfaction, please contact my supervisors, Dr Briony Birdi and Dr Kate Dommett.

Jo McKenna-Aspell (researcher): jmckenna-aspell1@sheffield.ac.uk
Dr. Briony Birdi (supervisor): b.birdi@sheffield.ac.uk
Dr Kate Dommett (supervisor): k.dommett@sheffield.ac.uk

What should I do now?

If you have read this information and are willing to participate in this research, please proceed to the next page: How do I participate?

Published by jomckennaaspell

PhD student with the Information School at the University of Sheffield

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