Clayton County Libraries Needs
Meeting Clayton County Libraries Current Needs Through Sustainability Planning, Community Building and Advocacy
- Research Question
- Does the current Clayton Library System successfully meet all sustainability planning needs of the county?
- Does the Clayton County Library System effectively adjust to changes with regards to development plans, employment trends, demographics and socioeconomic status?
- Is there equality in access to library services to all residents of Clayton County?
- Research Methodology
Surveys and questionnaires will be used to ask individuals in the county about their library needs. The surveys will be implemented through:
- Mailing questionnaires to randomly selected individuals in the county.
- Giving out questionnaires to individuals in the library.
- Conducting telephone surveys.
- Performing personal interviews with key community players and randomly selected members of the different communities.
The survey method is the best because it promotes contact with the respondents and helps in obtaining first hand information (Marsden & Wright, 2010). The rates of response will vary depending on the method employed. For instance, surveys conducted through the telephone will have a higher response rate than mailed surveys. Mailed surveys are more expensive, even though their implementation is easy and less-time consuming. Nevertheless, reassuring the respondents of confidentiality especially in small communities can help in improving the response rates. The data obtained from the surveys is equivalent to the questions asked, therefore, the structuring of the survey questions is an important aspect and will be carefully considered because of the great impact it has on the outcome of the research. Furthermore, there are various formats for phrasing the survey questions; ranging from open ended questions to fixed alternative questions to closed questions (Marsden & Wright, 2010). Every format has its own disadvantages and advantages, therefore the framing and formatting of the survey questions will be carefully considered. The questions will be pretested first to ensure that there are absolutely no flaws in formatting (Marsden & Wright, 2010).
C. Theoretical Foundation and/or Conceptual Framework
The potential theoretical foundation that may guide this research is that the library is an important tool in helping the community to reach its potential. There is need to have institutional libraries that are capable of causing a positive impact on the lives of library users, their families and communities and the county at large (Voth, 2007). The library service should therefore expand to all members of the county to all correction departments; youth service departments, mental health institutions and nursing homes among other special departments. Library services should be easily accessible to all community members. Consequently, the planning process should involve the participation of all county members, including potential users and non-users.
The other conceptual framework is based on the principle of equality of access to education and opportunity. In this digital era, doctrine of equality requires that all individuals, including those living in remote regions get equal access to information, especially through the internet (Voth, 2007). The Clayton Library System strives to ensure that the public gets equal access to online library services (Baker & Wallace, 2002). Nonetheless, there are so many other residents in the county who do not have the opportunity to enjoy the library services due to their remoteness and poverty. There is need to engage the community in the planning process so that we are able to include individuals with special interests and the diversity of the county. It is also important to identify the programs, issues and concerns that have not previously been recognized by library administrators in order to improve service delivery.
The gap in Clayton County exists in terms of inequality of access to library services to all county residents. Though there are institutional library services, they are not effectively developed as to cater for all individuals and their special interests as well as the county diversity.
E. Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations
Assumption: Every individual deserves equal access to quality county library services, particularly the marginalized and disabled individuals.
Limitation: The limitations will include social stigma, mental illnesses and physical disabilities.
Delimitation: The delimitation will include the use intermediaries to get information from people with social stigma, mental illnesses and physical disabilities.
F. Controlling and Managing Bias
The first strategy that will be employed to manage bias is by random selection of the sample members. Random selection helps in preventing unfair selection from a particular population that may be inclined to their own opinions different from the general population (Taylor, 2009). The research will therefore entail random choosing of samples across the whole county in order to avoid selecting a subset of the population. The second strategy I will employ is constructing neutral questions that will not lead the respondents. In the course of questioning, I will ensure that general questions are asked prior to specific questions, so that I do not give the respondents too many details before getting their perspective. The research questions will be constructed in a simple and easy manner in order to avoid misrepresentation.
G. Summary of the Literature/Logical Fallacies
i. Brief outline that describes the flow of intended literature review
Yang (2005) points out that social equity has been an area of interest for many scholars in different disciplines. There are scholars who have researched on the evaluation, implementation and planning of multicultural programs. Others have focused on the impact of information technology, particularly the internet. However, there is barely any study on the factors that have contributed to multicultural information services (Yang, 2005). Thomas (1981) acknowledges the efforts by the United States to ensure that there is equality of access in order to bring about equality of opportunity. According a report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, equality of opportunity in this digital era demands that all people have access to online information as well as the skills to utilize the Internet (Voth, 2007). All public libraries are adopting the digital technology and implementing measures to ensure that all individuals benefit with online resources (Mason & Dodds, 2005). To succeed in creating a positive impact to the community, the society must be well educated about the significant role of the library in promoting development and sustainability (Yang, 2005; MacCann, 1989; Mason & Dodds, 2005). McKee (nd), the Chief Executive of The UK Library Association, says that libraries play a very important role in bridging the gap between the advantages and the disadvantaged both in local and global communities. Research shows that over 40% of Americans do not use the Internet mainly due to barriers to access and lack of skills (Voth, 2007).
ii. Logical fallacies
The fallacy that the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged is a result of the differences in innate skill and effort is a concept of the right-wing economic thoughts (Chait, 2011). The right to access information is for all citizens and all citizens should be given a chance to learn the skills of using the library and accessing all information necessary for personal and community development (Mason & Dodds, 2005). I will guard against this fallacy in my writing by ensuring neutrality and putting into consideration all the individual interests of the residents and the diversity of the County.
It is not true to conclude that equality is a fabrication (Thomas, 1981). It is possible to achieve equality in the provision of library services by eliminating the barriers. I will therefore ensure neutrality in order to avoid misrepresentation and strive to stick to the fact that there are inherent rights that individuals should not be denied from enjoying.
H. Synthesis of the Literature
In Flood’s article, Zadie Smith Defends Local Libraries, he paraphrases novelist Zadie Smith’s words that “Libraries are vital to every society in every culture” (2012). They don’t discriminate. They don’t care if you are rich or poor, well read or can’t read a word. According to the Kranich (2005), the concept of equal access is significant to American democracy and all citizens need equal access to means of participating in governance, and exclusion should not be entertained because it bars individuals in participating in democracy. Schement (2004) also perceives the library as the main medium through which all individuals can obtain information necessary to help them effectively participate in the activities of public life. However, this opportunity has not been fully accorded to all American citizens (Schement, 2004; MacCann, 1989; Mason & Dodds, 2005).
I. Implications for Future Research
My research will be a basis for future research with regards to community changes and library needs. Other researchers will use it to carry out further study on the impact of equality of opportunity to community development. It will also be used in gauging the significance of the Internet on sustainable living and how it has helped in promoting individual well-being of the residents of Clayton County. This paper will form a basis for further research on library needs in the County.
J. Contributions to Discipline and to Social Change
This research will contribute to the discipline of by providing a better way in which the library service management can help in promoting equal opportunity of access to library services to all individuals in the County. This research is also designed to promote equality of opportunity with regards to accessing online library services and acquisition of skills necessary to utilize the library services in the County. It will therefore contribute to social change by providing a design in which all residents of the County are able to utilize available information resources and use them to improve their lifestyles.
Baker, S. L. & Wallace, K. L. (2002). The responsive public library collection: How to develop and market it (2nd ed.). Englewood, CO: Library Unlimited, Inc.
Chait, J. (2011). The Equality of Opportunity Fallacy. New Republic. Accessed on 20th July 2013 from http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/jonathan-chait/88968/the-equality-opportunity-fallacy#
Flood, A. (2012). Zadie Smith Defends Local Libraries: Libraries are ‘Essential’ to Promote Equality of Opportunity. The Guardian. Accessed on 20th July 2013 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/31/zadie-smith-defends-local-libraries
Kranich, N. (2005). Equality and Equity of Access: What’s the Difference? American Library Association. Chicago.
MacCann, D. (1989). Social Responsibility in Librarianship: Essays on Equality. McFarland & Company, Inc.
Marsden, V. P., & Wright, J. D. (2010). Handbook of Survey Research. Emerald Group Publishing.
Mason, C. Y., & Dodds, R. (2005). Bridge the digital divide for educational equity. Education Digest, 70(9), 25-27. Accessed on 21st July 2013, from Academic Search Premier Database.
McKee, B. (nd). The Role of the Library in Promoting Peace. The Library Association (UK).
Schement, J, R. (2004). Imagining Fairness: Equality and Equity of Access in Search of Democracy. American Library Association: Chicago. Accessed on 20th July 2013 from http://www.ala.org/offices/oitp/publications/infocommons0204/schement
Taylor, C. (2009). How to Control Bias in Business Research. Demand Media. Accessed on 19th July 2013 from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/control-bias-business-research-39404.html
Thomas, F. (1981). The Equality Question: Uncertainties in Educational Thought and Democratic Idealism. Journal of Educational Thought, v15 n2 p137-45.
Voth, S. (2007). Equality in E-Book Access: E-Book Reading Devices in the Public Library. Library Student Journal. Flushing, New York.
Yang, L. (2005). Review: Still Struggling for Equality: American Public Library Services with Minorities by Plummer Alston Jones, Jr. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 1(2), Article 16.