Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to

I just read the free-text responses to “If you could make one change to any aspect of the library, what would it be?” from our recently-completed survey.

I need to go for a walk.

I know we asked for critique.  I know we asked for the negative.  I know I’m fortunate in that I’m unsurprised by the responses, and am not being blindsided with unexpected concerns.  We just got a LOT of responses… and it’s hard to read that much critique at once.

I know that once we break the data out into segments — hours concerns in this document, computer issues here, collections suggestions here — it’ll be easier to digest and consider.  I know that reading all 299 free-text responses in one big gulp wasn’t the best way to see the trends or understand the concerns.  But I was so curious!

Curious no more.  Going for a walk and striving to recognize that the comments are balanced by the strong satisfaction responses from the rest of the survey.

This assessment thing is hard on the ego.


  1. It’s difficult to read at first. It’s sorting out the can do, can’t do, and won’t do. Don’t take it personally.

    I remember getting lit up by a blogger my first few months as a director. We apparently didn’t have the full Douglas Adams Hitchikers Guide and we were apparently the Worst Public Library in the World (actual title).


  2. It stings less if you follow it with a positive. We asked what’s your favorite thing and what would you change in that order. I made sure to read (all 900+ of) them in reverse order. 🙂

    Now coding them is what’s killing me…


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