Section III: Support

A primary goal of the Greenstone User and Developer Survey was to understand the usefulness of current support resources from the perspectives of Greenstone users and developers.  In order to assess support mechanisms, respondents were asked to reply to either two or three series of questions. In the first series of questions, we asked how important a number of general learning methods were to respondents with respect to learning to use and/or develop Greenstone; and for feedback on a wide variety of resources. Specific questions focused on (a) general learning methods; (b) importance of specific support resources; (c) how specific support resources have been useful; and (d) how support resources could be improved.

The second and third series of questions related to Support extended the first section with respect to use and usefulness of the email distribution lists and local support mechanisms. Respondents were selected to receive these sets of questions based on responses to previous questions. Only respondents who indicated use of the email lists received the set of questions that asked for more extensive feedback related to the email lists. Respondents were presented with one of two sets of questions regarding local support mechanisms based on whether or not s/he indicated knowledge of a local or regional Greenstone support provider in his/her area.



General support-related information: (1) Learning Methods.

Learning Methods Set Question: How important have each of the following learning methods been to you in your Greenstone learning process?

Total number of respondents who answered any question in this set (set N): 86

The text of each question in the set is below. The total number of respondents to each question (N) is indicated alongside the question. For each question, the mean level of importance assigned to the given method by respondents who indicated the level of importance is give, from 1=very important to 4=Not Important. Note that the questions were presented to respondents in a random order (with the exception of the “other” question, which was always presented last).

Q1. Past experience with other library software; N=82
Of those who indicated the level of importance of past experience with other library software (71 respondents), the mean level of importance was 2.58 (Std. Dev.=1.078).

Q2. Reading support documents (e.g., manuals, website); N=86
Of those who indicated the level of importance of reading support documents to learn Greenstone (85 respondents), the mean level of importance assigned was 1.67 (Std. Dev.=0.777).

Q3. Communicating with other Greenstone users/developers; N=83
Of those who indicated the level of importance of communicating with other Greenstone users/developers as a method to learn Greenstone (79 respondents), the mean level of importance was 1.87 (Std. Dev.=0.868).

Q4. Past experience with other software generally; N=85
Of those who indicated the level of importance of past experience with other software generally to learning Greenstone (79 respondents), the mean level of importance was 2.14 (Std. Dev.=0.888).

Q5. Experimenting with Greenstone software; N=83
Of those who indicated the level of importance of experimentation as a method to learn Greenstone (81 respondents), the mean level of importance assigned was 1.43 (Std. Dev.=0.511).

Q6. Other (please specify); N=9
Workshops and support from consultants or commercial entities were also indicated as important to learning to use – and to not have to learn to use – Greenstone.



Table 1. Level of importance of general learning methods. Frequencies of the number of respondents who indicated a response category for each general learning method are listed in the table.

Level of Importance
Learning Method Very Important Important Somewhat Important Not Important Not Applicable (+ No Answ.)
Past experience: library software 15 17 22 17 11 (+4)
Reading support documents 41 34 7 3 1 (+0)
Experimenting 50 28 2 1 2 (+3)
Communicating with users/ developers 30 34 10 5 6 (+1)
Past experience: other software 20 34 19 6 4 (+3)



General support-related information: (2) Importance of Support Resources.

Respondents were also asked to evaluated how important s/he has found specific support resources in his/her Greenstone learning process. Additionally, respondents were asked in what ways these learning resources have been important. To assess the importance, respondents were asked to indicate importance for specific resources on a four point scale (1=Very Important; 2=Important; 3=Somewhat Important; 4=Not Important; 6=Not Applicable). In addition to eleven named resources, respondents were also able to indicate a learning resource and indicate its importance. A summary of the measures of central tendency for the levels of importance of specific resources by those who indicated importance for each resource is presented in the Table 2 below.



Table 2. Respondent ratings of importance of specific support resources. Respondents rated resources on a four point scale (1=Very Important; 2=Important; 3=Somewhat Important; 4=Not Important).  A “Not Applicable” answer choice was also available, but not used to calculate ratings presented in this table.

Measure of Central Tendency
Resource (N) Mean Standard Deviation Median Mode
Email list ARCHIVES (N=73) 2.15 1.101 2 1
Email list (N=74) 2.04 1.066 2 1
Website / Wiki (greenstone.org) (N=82) 1.74 0.814 2 1
Manuals (pdf or html) (N=82) 1.73 0.786 2 1
Journal articles (N=69) 2.78 0.968 3 2
Conference presentations (N=66) 2.86 1.021 3 4
Local user group or support organization (N=56) 2.50 1.095 2 2
Greenstone example collections (N=78) 2.00 0.940 2 2
Individuals in (my) organization (N=58) 2.55 1.029 2 2
Training sessions or workshops (N=57) 2.33 1.200 2 1
Source code (N=58) 2.60 1.059 3 3



Table 3. Respondent indications of the ways in which specific support resources have been helpful. Frequencies for the number of respondents who indicated how a resource has been important are presented for each resource.

How the resource has been important
Resource (N) Gain an OVERVIEW of Greenstone Understand SPECIFIC DETAILS of Greenstone FIND other support resources Develop support or training resources
Email list ARCHIVES 13 44 22 7
Email list 17 42 23 4
Website / Wiki (greenstone.org) 46 46 23 12
Manuals (pdf or html) 47 47 16 12
Journal articles 20 14 21 6
Conference presentations 22 14 18 8
Local user group or support organization 11 22 14 7
Greenstone example collections 44 44 12 14
Individuals in (my) organization 12 12 9 7
Training sessions or workshops 22 19 10 11
Source code 6 25 5 12

Other resources mentioned as important to respondents’ learning process included “Books written by Witten et.al.” and paid consultants or commercial services.

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