How do we learn what our community wants?

Julie.Woodford's picture

 How do we learn what our community wants?  Many times I find myself assuming that I know my own community, so surely I know what we want.  It seems like just about every time I say, “I know my community,” I only get it partially correct.  In the fall of 2010, I had an outstanding opportunity at the “Transforming Life After 50” fellowship to learn the tools necessary to conduct a community assessment by asking great questions and to better learn what a community really wants.  I am just now gingerly stepping into the action part of this learning.  Last month I took a deep breath and conducted my first survey outside of the library using surveymonkey.com. 

 Because so many of you recommended surveymonkey.com to me, you probably know all about this truly terrific, totally free, tool – a 3T tool.  If you haven’t used this 3T tool before, you’ll want to check it out.  The website helped me create a survey that was less biased than the questions I posed and also could be taken either online or with hard copy.  If you hand out hard copies – and here’s the best part – someone can later input the information and the analysis part of the survey is done for you.  Think volunteers!  Our project last month turned out to only use hard copies and this gave us a great opportunity to actually talk with people in our community.  I would recommend if you conduct a survey like this, that you first test it on a small sampling of people because you’ll learn if you’re satisfied with the answers you’re receiving or if you should slightly revamp your questions to obtain the information you are seeking.  

As we explore the library service need/wants opportunities for populations age 50+, we’ll want to learn more by asking great questions.  This is a large segment of our population but well worth the time to learn about who they (or in my case, who we) are.  

  Survey Monkey: 

http://www.surveymonkey.com/ 

More community assessment info from Transforming Life after 50 including samples: 

http://transforminglifeafter50.org/tools-ideas/assessment-evaluation