The Roles of Digital Libraries as Boundary Objects Within and Across Social and Information Worlds

You and your group, [Group Name], are invited to be in a research study of Goodreads and its role in groups and communities. You and members of your group were selected as possible participants because you were listed as one of the more popular groups on the Goodreads site. I ask you to read this form and ask any questions you may have before agreeing to be in the study.

This study is being conducted by Adam Worrall, a doctoral candidate at the Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies, under the supervision of Dr. Michelle M. Kazmer, an associate professor at the School. The study is being conducted independently of but with the consent of Goodreads.

Background Information:

The purpose of this study is to look at the roles digital libraries play in the groups and communities their users are part of. Goodreads is one example of a digital library, providing content and services to its users through an organization. I am interested in your members’ use of Goodreads as individuals and in interactions with others in groups and communities. I would collect data in three ways:

  1. Messages posted to the group’s discussion boards
  2. A survey of users of and visitors to the group, via an invitation posted to the group’s discussion board
  3. Interviews with a subset of survey respondents

This data will allow me to see the roles the site serves for group users and other, broader communities of users, and should improve our understanding of how these sites and other digital libraries can relate to groups and communities.


If you agree that your group can be in this study, I would post an invitation letter in your group’s discussion board inviting members of your group (including yourself) to complete a short online survey, which asks about their experience with, and use of, Goodreads as an individual and as part of groups and communities. If they choose to participate, they will be presented with a list of statements about the site and their use of it, and asked if they agree or disagree with each one. They will be asked for basic demographic and usage information at the end of the survey. The survey should take users no more than 15-20 minutes to complete. After data collection for the survey is complete, a selection of those who completed it will be invited via e-mail to participate in a follow-up interview with me, where I would ask about their experience with and use of Goodreads as an individual and as part of groups and communities. Individual consent will be obtained from all participating users prior to their completion of the survey and before taking part in an interview.

Risks and benefits of being in the Study:

Completing this research will have minimal risks to you and members of your group as participants, believed to be no more than the risks you experience in everyday life. By participating you and members of your group may benefit indirectly, as users of a digital library, from improved digital library design, usability, services, and an overall better understanding of the social elements of digital libraries.


For participating in the survey, members who complete it will be entered into a drawing for 10 $25 gift cards. They may choose between gift cards from three bookstores:, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million. This random drawing will take place after the conclusion of the survey data collection. Members must complete the survey questionnaire and provide their e-mail address to be entered into the drawing.


The records of this study will be kept private and confidential to the extent permitted by law. In any sort of report I might publish, I will not include any information making it possible to identify you, group members, or other participants. Research records will be stored securely and only the researcher, Adam Worrall, will have access to the records. All research records will be wiped, deleted, or shredded five years after completion of the survey or interview or April 30th, 2019, whichever is sooner.

Members e-mail addresses, collected at the end of the survey, may be used to send a gift card if they are selected in the drawing. At the end of the survey, they will be asked if I may contact them via e-mail for a possible follow-up interview. Their e-mail addresses will remain confidential and will not be used for other purposes.

Voluntary Nature of the Study:

Participation in this study is voluntary. Your decision to participate or not will not affect your current or future relations with Florida State University, Goodreads, or any other site, institution, or organization. If you decide to participate, you and members of your group are free to not answer any question or withdraw at any time without affecting those relationships.

Contacts and Questions:

The researcher conducting this study is Adam Worrall, a doctoral candidate, under the supervision of Dr. Michelle M. Kazmer, an associate professor, of the Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies. If you have any questions, you are encouraged to contact me via e-mail at or via phone at (850) 274-5838, or Dr. Kazmer via e-mail at or via phone at (850) 559-2421.

If you have any questions or concerns about this study and would like to talk to someone other than the researcher, you are encouraged to contact the FSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) at 2010 Levy Street, Research Building B, Suite 276, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2742, or (850) 644-8633, or by email at

I encourage you to print a copy of this information to keep for your records, or you may always access it at

Statement of Consent:

I have read the above information. I have asked questions and have received answers. By clicking the “I consent” button below, I consent for my group to participate in the study.

To give consent, please use the survey-based link you were sent. This is a copy of the consent form stored at a permanent URL you can access later.