Analyzing the Qualitative Data

I’m looking at ways to summarize patron comments to the open-ended questions and finding the “Analyzing Qualitative Data” framework in the Resources section very helpful. I have 2 questions for those of you who are coding and summarizing your open-ended responses:

  • Has anyone developed standard categories for survey question 6, which asks about what the library can do to assist in learning? Sample categories are provided in the Qualitative worksheet for survey question 5, but not 6 (unless I missed them). I can see how they may vary from the “what did you like” categories.
  • The process of coding the responses in Excel, then transferring descriptions and responses to a Word document seems cumbersome. Has anyone found a way to streamline this process, for example by coding and summarizing in the same Excel spreadsheet?
    Thanks in advance!

We get very few responses to that question, other than “it’s already fine” or “just keep doing what you’re doing,” or no response at all. I’m curious what you’re doing to get responses?

Hi Amy,

That’s a great question. We provided the analyzing qualitative data worksheet as a template for libraries to edit or add to to meet their program needs. Based off what we’ve heard from libraries, some general categories for improvement comments could be: “Scheduling” (different time, weekend classes, etc); “Staff/Instructor”; “Pace” (too slow, too fast, not enough time to ask questions, etc); “Skills Level” (more programs for beginners, more advanced classes); “Additional Programming” (specific requests for programs not currently offered).

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We’re just getting started, and we are getting plenty of “nothing, we like it all” type responses or non-responses. But to get more thoughtful answers, I think it helps to hand out paper surveys (instead of online) perhaps because it’s easy to quickly jot down a response instead of typing. The program that I was recently coding was for teens, so maybe they are naturally more open and appreciative of being asked…?!