The purpose of this paper is to provide advice for library managers on the collection of feedback from stakeholders. An example of radio frequency identification (RFID) is used to illustrate what can be learned and how decisions can be improved with this feedback.
The stakeholder, RFID and library literature are reviewed and lessons for improving future technology decisions are developed. The results of a direct-mail survey of 394 members of the general public in the Midwest illustrate the insights that can be gained with marketing research.
Many libraries appear to have neglected getting feedback from some stakeholders before implementing RFID tagging of materials. Gathering specific information from local stakeholders (including some that are only indirectly influenced by a decision) can help improve the odds of initiative success. Regular dialogs with stakeholder groups can help librarians track progress of programs, identify issues and prepare response strategies.
If librarians had conducted surveys about RFID or self-service checkouts when the technologies were under consideration, they would have gained a greater appreciation of the concerns some individuals had. Dialogs could have been started, educational events could have been planned and other responses could have been developed. The stakeholders to be regularly consulted should include individuals who are indirectly affected by the library. These lessons can be followed when librarians consider other initiatives.
This paper offers library leaders new insights into when and how to gather information from stakeholders. Tips are offered to improve the effectiveness of surveys and focus groups.
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