A Proposal to Investigate Polish Immigrants' Experiences of Public Libraries in Edmonton

Data Collection

A sample of the first generation Polish adult immigrants in Edmonton who lived in Communist Poland will be studied. The project will aim to obtain thirty participants, of which five will be used for pre-testing the interview schedule. The remaining twenty-five participants will provide data saturation, at which point "no new or relevant information" is disclosed (Saumure and Given 2008, 195). Twenty-five participants is within the range of a typical sample size for phenomenological studies, which this study is (Leedy and Ormrod 2010, 141). The study will use purposive sampling, and specifically criterion sampling, so that the requirement of interviewing a specific population is met (Palys 2008, 697). The modes of advertising will be bilingual posters in Appendices B and C that will be displayed on bulletin boards in Polish venues in Edmonton, namely Our Lady Queen of Poland Roman Catholic Church, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Polonia Sausage & Deli, Baltyk Bakery, Baltyk Meat Products & Deli, and the Polish Hall. The study will also use snowball sampling, in which initial informants will disseminate either of the bilingual recruitment forms in Appendices D and E to acquaintances and relatives that fit the research criteria, and therefore will reach people who may not see the advertisements (Morgan 2008, 815, 816). Interested individuals will contact the researcher, so as not to violate the privacy of individuals who may not wish for their contact information to be disseminated to strangers.

A meeting time that is convenient for both the researcher and each participant will be arranged through phone or email conversations, depending on which of the two methods participants will use to contact the researcher. Interviews will take place in participants' homes, so that interviewees will be in a comfortable atmosphere that will aid disclosure and they will not have to travel to possibly inconvenient locations. Interviews will take place between September 14 and December 7, 2010.

This project will use a phenomenological methodology. The method will be semi-structured in-person interviews of one hour in length. The aim of a phenomenological study is to try to understand the participants' own "perceptions, perspectives, and understandings" (Leedy and Ormrod 2010, 141). A semi-structured interview's open-ended questions allow participants to express themselves freely while affording the researcher the opportunity to ensure that crucial areas are discussed by using probing techniques to elicit more information (Ayres 2008, 810).

Data collection will consist of recording the interviews on a digital audio recorder and transcribing them. From the transcripts the researcher will identify statements that are relevant to the topic, group them into specific units of meaning, seek divergent perspectives that arise from different experiences, and construct a composite to describe the group’s general experience of the situation (Leedy and Ormrod 2010, 142).

In order to assess credibility, as in whether or not the interpretations of the researcher adequately reflect the expressions of the participants, participants will be asked at the end of their interviews whether they may be contacted by the researcher to read her report, and therefore provide member checks (Jensen 2008b, 138, 139). Member checks will take place between December 7 and December 28, 2010. To determine transferability, the researcher will provide as full a context as possible, so that readers of her report will be able to determine whether her findings can be applied to other contexts (Jensen 2008d, 886). The participants are very closely linked to the context, and so findings may not be applicable to Polish immigrants who did not live in Communist Poland, since they did not experience the same public library structures (Jensen 2008d, 886). They may be applicable to immigrants from other cultures who experienced similar Communist public library structures. They may not be applicable to immigrants from cultures who did not experience similar public library structures. They may not be applicable to libraries that are not public, due to the different purposes and structures of academic and special libraries. To provide for dependability, the researcher will fully disclose her method and processes in her report, as well as append the interview schedule, so that other researchers may replicate her study (Jensen 2008c, 209). She will also note any changes and variations from the proposal that may arise during the study (Jensen 2008c, 209). To support confirmability, the researcher will suspend her own preconceived notions and biases about participants' experiences, so as to ensure that her interpretations of participants' perceptions and constructions are actually based on their perceptions and contructions (Jensen 2008a, 112; Leedy and Ormrod 2010, 141). She will ask open-ended questions that participants are free to interpret for themselves, so that she is exerting as little influence as possible over the interviews (Ayres 2008, 810, 811). Thus, the participants will be the primary conversationalists (Leedy and Ormrod 2010, 141), with the researcher using minimal interjections of questions and probes for purposes of clarification and coverage of key areas under investigation (Ayres 2008, 810). In the final report, the researcher will provide examples of participants' expressions as evidence of their perceptions and constructions in order to reveal the basis for her conclusions (Jensen 2008a, 112).

The bilingual interview schedules in Appendices I and J were created by the researcher, and are based on the principles of providing a general guideline for participants' conversations. Topics for questions arose from conducting the literature review, in that the researcher will be asking questions about participants' library experiences in Canada. However, the questions are more general than the specific questionnaire items of studies in the literature review. They also differ from these studies' questions in that they give equal attention to experiences in the country of origin and country of settlement, instead of focusing exclusively, or mostly, on the country of settlement. The necessary topics of coverage relate to participants' experiences of, attitudes to, and uses of public libraries in Communist Poland and in Edmonton. The interview schedules will be pre-tested with five participants, and the test will determine whether existing questions result in answers that provide relevant information. It will be used specifically to verify whether the existing questions are too general, and therefore force the interviewer to rely excessively on prompts in order to stimulate participants' conversations. If the questions are too general, the researcher will modify the interview schedules to include some specific structured questions. Recruitment and meeting with pre-testing participants will proceed in the same manner as outlined above.

The researcher will require external permissions. The form to obtain the approval of Polish organizations in Edmonton to advertise on their premises is in Appendix F. She will require permission from participants to enter their homes and record them. Both permissions are included in both of the bilingual informed consent forms in Appendices G and H, which participants must sign as part of participation.

This study will examine only the opinions of first-generation Polish immigrants who lived in Communist Poland. Other individuals will not have experienced the same library structures as these individuals, and so will not be useful to the research aims. Regarding public library services, librarians' opinions of service to the Polish community will not be studied, since they are irrelevant to the research aims of determining Polish immigrants' perceptions. This study also will not examine the collections, services, or programs of the Edmonton Public Library, since its focus is strictly on participants' perceptions.