A survey form was mailed out to all 1170 readers in November 1996 in order to learn their preferences on topics covered in the Abbey Newsletter and the format in which the news and information was delivered. Questionnaire results were reported in the last issue.
Actually, 54 of the 145 or so readers who returned the questionnaire added comments at the bottom of the second page, and 11 of these people commented on more than one topic, so there were about 70 comments in all. They covered eight topics, not counting three topics addressed by only one person each.
These eight topics were: frequency and regularity of issues, using the Internet as a news source and delivery mode, satisfaction with the status quo, indexes, the literature and reviews sections, price, and type size.
The most popular theme, addressed by 31 people, was satisfaction with the Newsletter. Here is a sampling of their comments:
Don't change anything.
OK as is.
You do a great job as it is.
Basically, I love your publication.
I am quite satisfied with the way you are providing meaty information.
I prefer the status quo. I presently read each newsletter cover to cover and commend you highly for its quality of news, reporting standards, and information. When a "younger" staff member comes aboard, I also share my copy with him/her to stimulate discussion and mentoring. I also demand my copy back for my files. Keep up the good work....
Of the nine people who gave their opinions on frequency and regularity of publication, not one wanted more issues per year. Six would be enough, most of them said, as long as they came regularly. ("I especially would not want more issues. [I have enough to read!]" ..."Regularity is important.")
Six people were especially satisfied with the literature section and book reviews. They said:
Publish book reviews and bibliography twice a year as a special issue or separate insert.
Keep up your literature reviews please. I use them and share them with my colleagues.
The literature reviews and announcements are a favorite, and I may read them first.
I need some of your more informative (often humorous) articles and rely heavily on the book reviews and info re: purchasing them.
Really like your book reviews!
Five brought up the price of subscriptions:
Please no more price increases.... If there is another price increase, I will be forced to cancel.
Keeping the price of serials down [is] critical to libraries, all of which have strained serials budgets.
Money is already tight--I'd hate to see the price go up very much!
I would be reluctant to endorse any changes that would result in an increased subscription price. This publication is one of the few useful periodicals with a subscription price that is within reach of the smaller institutions with severely restricted budgets.
Please try to hold the line on subscription prices--our library is facing drastic cuts, and I would have to justify the subscription.
Four out of five people who brought up the index wanted more frequent or complete indexes:
A more frequent index could be used, but is not necessary.
Index every third issue.
I spend quite a bit of time scanning my annual indexes for a given subject.... If a complete paper index is not feasible, how about a computer index?
[Index] twice a year, or quarterly?
No need for more indexes!
Four brought up the Internet. One person who did not regularly access CoOL or the DistList wanted more of the online messages and notices published. The other three suggested "electronic" or e-mail subscriptions, as an alternative to fax subscriptions or a way of saving on postage and printing, as well as speeding news delivery to distant readers.
Two people suggested a larger typeface. A slightly larger typeface that uses space more efficiently is being tried out in this issue: 12 pt. Times.
Finally, the miscellaneous responses: One person wanted more coverage of issues related to digital libraries; one didn't want such coverage to increase at the expense of book conservation; and one was jokingly aghast at the idea of printing on pastel colored paper: "No thanks! Ugh!"
Nobody suggested the use of colored ink or colored illustrations.