Diversity?

Last night our Strategic Planning Committee met to discuss the results of our recent community survey. Most of the survey was well designed and yielded results that were easy to understand. But one word, one concept really, kept troubling us and made us wonder if we and the people who answered the survey were on the same page.

We asked a few questions about diversity: diversity of services, diversity of our collections. They yielded very different results. One question asked if it was important for the library’s services to represent the diversity of our community, and only 13% of respondents thought it was. However, when we asked about the most important actions for the library to provide, ‘Diverse Collections and Services’ ranked number two among dozens of selections, sandwiched between ‘Support for Basic Computer Literacy,’ and ‘More Downloadable E-books.’

In discussing this, we wondered whether survey respondents took the words ‘diverse’ and ‘diversity’ to refer to the same concept in both instances. We certainly meant it the same way in asking both questions, namely, collections and services that are relevant to people of varying races and ethnicities. But due to the wide disparity in responses, we thought that perhaps respondents understood ‘Diverse Collections and Services’ to mean many different collections and services, without consideration of any specific target audience.

What do you think? If you were answering the question about ‘Diverse Collections and Services,’ would you mean the former or the latter?

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