Design and Justification

As previously discussed, the objective of the proposed study will be the determination of the need for thematic indexing among music research library users in the United States. To accomplish this, the descriptive survey method will be used. This is an appropriate methodology because one of its basic purposes is to describe characteristics of the population being studied.[1] The survey instrument will be a written questionnaire developed by the researcher. The questionnaire can be examined in Appendix A.

Research Questions

The questionnaire is designed to collect data that will answer the following questions: What are the information needs of the user? Which, if any, of those information needs might be served through online thematic indexing? What is the level of knowledge and usage among users of music materials of the tools which could be used for thematic indexing and retrieval?

Population and Sample

The population identified for the study is the universe of users of music research libraries with online catalogs in the United States.

A combination of probability and nonprobability sampling methods will be utilized. Because the population is extremely large and widely dispersed, a cluster sampling method will be used first. The Music Library Association's institutional membership list[2] will provide the initial cluster of the sample. Quota sampling will then be performed, ensuring that location and type of library information, collected from the MLA list, and circulation, collection size, and presence of online public access catalog data, taken from an international directory of libraries[3], are proportionally represented in the sample. A list of representative libraries is available in Appendix B.

The population of music research library users is estimated to be between 30 and 40 thousand nationally. Therefore, the minimum sample size, using the table for determining sample size developed by Krejcie and Morgan,[4] is 379. If 50 libraries participate in administering the survey, approximately 8 responses from each library will provide an adequate sample. This number should not prove difficult to achieve from even the most survey-weary library. In order to ensure an adequate response rate, however, oversampling will be performed.

The users questioned in this survey will be selected through accidental sample. That is, all users who happen to visit each location during the randomly selected time periods will be asked to complete the survey. The staff at each participating library is only required to distribute and collect the individual copies of the survey instrument.

Data Collection Method

After acquiring permission from the appropriate authority at each institution (see Appendix C), the researcher will mail copies of the survey instrument to be administered to each user of the music collection. The number of copies allocated to each site will be based upon average daily circulation.

The surveys will be completed on a randomly selected weekday during each of the months of April, August, and December and returned to the researcher using supplied, postage-paid envelopes. Since many music libraries are associated with academic institutions, this schedule will increase the response rate by allowing the survey to be conducted at times when the user population is largest.

Validity and Reliability

The questions used on the survey instrument will be pre- tested for validity. The pre-test will be conducted at one or more libraries not selected as part of the sample. In addition, individuals within the profession with music expertise will read and comment upon the survey instrument. If necessary, the survey instrument will be revised and re-tested. As this instrument is utilized in more studies over time, its reliability as an instrument will be proven.

Chapter Three Notes

1. Ronald R. Powell, "Survey Research and Sampling," chap. in Basic Research Methods for Librarians, 2d ed., (Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1991), 56.

2. Music Library Association, Membership Handbook. 1994 ed. (Canton, MA: Music Library Association, 1993).

3. American Library Directory 1994-1995. 47th ed. (New Providence, NJ: R. R. Bowker, 1993).

4. Powell, 75.

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