Dangerous Liaisons - UW Libraries

October 18, 2017

Quality Improvement Tools in the Library

Andrea L. Ball

Have you ever had a quality improvement (QI) project where you needed to analyze the data and then construct a game plan for moving forward? There are several QI tools that can help.


Let’s say you have the opportunity to revamp a library service and you decide to hold a series of focus groups. This is one way to gather evidence. You’ll want to be sure to have representation from all of your key user groups, and it’s important to ask the same questions of each group. You continue holding focus group sessions until you reach saturation, i.e. you start to hear the same answers over and over.


After you have recorded the feedback from the focus groups you need to analyze the information. There are several ways to do this: one approach is to do qualitative content analysis and look for patterns within the responses. Use those patterns to define key services to concentrate on. You can then use a logic model to help you define your resources, goals and expectations.


Another approach is to use a QI tool like Value Analysis. In this case you identify the key functions that must be performed in order for the participants to be satisfied. For example, maybe several of your participants mentioned that they don’t know what the library services are. The function for this may be “Demonstrate Value.” You would then brainstorm different ways to accomplish this function.


You can use several of these QI methods together. These are just tools – and as you would with any tools, you apply them at the appropriate point in the analysis phase of your project.


The National Network of Libraries of Medicine’s National Evaluation Office has wonderful resources you can use for project design, development and evaluation. Take a look! https://nnlm.gov/neo/guides/tools