This post was written by Digital Equity in Libraries research team member Amy Honisett, Public Training Librarian at Multnomah County Library.
In our last post, we wrote about the logistical challenges involved with remote study participation. Remote access to the study tool gave participants an easy and convenient way to participate, but it left out an important demographic – community members who do not have internet access at home.
In order to reach those community members, we set up a computer lab and got help from colleagues to promote the lab at day centers, homeless shelters, and low-income housing. We anticipated a few participants, but did not expect much participation.
On the day of the lab, I started getting calls from staff as soon as the library opened. When is the lab? Does it really pay $20? How do I get on the list?
Having predicted low participation, we had planned (and promoted) the lab as first-come first served. We soon realized our mistake, as we only had eight computers available and a long line of people waiting to come in. On the first day, we ran out of time and cash. Potential participants who were turned away were disappointed, and we asked them to put their name on a list so we could give them priority at the next lab time.
When that time came, we had another long line of potential study participants. While some people were frustrated that a list had been formed at the last session, most people were understanding and kind. People waited outside the lab for hours to get their turn to participate. One self-appointed assistant helped organize newcomers and let people know what was going on as they approached.
Eventually, we added more lab times, serving most of the people who wanted to participate. We were heartened by our participants’ patience and kindness while they waited for us to develop a process.
- Drop in or first-come, first-served functions are not appropriate in resource-limited situations.
- In general, people are kind and flexible. Work with them to make things better.
- Twenty dollars is a big incentive for people to participate.