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Sunday, 1st August 2010

Public Libraries: Community Survey Results Released, Seattle Wants More From its Libraries

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle library patrons want branches open more hours, especially on Sunday, and would like a social-media outlet using the library's website, according to a survey of patrons conducted earlier this year.

The survey, for which results were released by the library Friday, presents some interesting choices for the library and its overseers. The library system reduced hours starting in February because of tax revenue shortfalls, reducing 15 branches to five-day-per week service to save costs. Librarian Susan Hildreth said the online survey, taken in early May, showed people want more hours, particularly on Sunday, though it's unlikely that will happen soon.


You've heard the following here before. Perhaps these new findings from the Seattle Public will provide not only motivation to the SPL staff but to other libraries and to the vendors who supply these services that a majority of users are unaware of.

Most survey respondents said they were unaware that the library offered online magazines and newspapers, in-person homework help, online library staff assistance or classes for non-English speakers.

"I take this as (indicating) more of a need for more marketing for all our services," [Librarian Susan] Hildreth said.

Full Text: The Seattle Public Library: Community Survey (52 pages; PDF)

Key Findings From the Community Survey via a SPL Web Page

Nearly 33,000 people completed the community survey between May 3-May 16 - a number equal to 5% of the city's population. The survey contained 29 questions asking everything from frequency of use to how easy it was to find information or download online resources. A detailed summary of the survey results is now available.

The survey, conducted as part of the Library's strategic planning process, was intended to capture a snapshot of current use and service gaps.

Respondents said they were very satisfied with the Library. Of the people who answered the survey:

+ 95% either agreed or strongly agreed that they usually get what they want when they use the Library
+ 94% chose providing materials as one of the two most important Library offerings
+ 62% visited a Library two or more times in a typical month
+ 38% visited the Library at least once a week
+ Lower income, non-white and non-English speakers were more likely to use the Library more than five times a month
+ Most people found it easy to check out books and materials, pick up holds and believed Library buildings were safe and clean


Why people come to the Library (note: respondents could select multiple choices):

+ 85% come to pick up holds or check out materials
+ 42% come to browse or read
+ 22% come to use a computer and 14% to use the wireless network. Respondents with higher incomes and education levels were less likely to use the wireless network and computers
+ 41% of teens aged 15 - 19 use the Library to study or do homework


Staff assistance valued:

+ 66% said Library staff members were most valued for their help with reference or research questions
+ 29% said getting reading recommendations from staff was also important

Online resources popular:

+ 89% said they used the Library's website at least once a month and almost half reported visiting the website at least once a week. Teen respondents visited the website even more frequently.
+ 55% said reference databases (articles and magazines) were among the most important electronic resources provided by the Library
+ 45% said downloadable media, such as e-books, video and audio, was the second highest ranking resource
+ 39% said the ease of using e-books and other online resources needed improvement


Emerging trends:

+ 54% want to create their own content online and share it with others
+ 42% want online discussion groups about current events

More awareness of specialized services needed:

+ The majority of people were unaware the Library offered online magazines and newspapers, online or in person homework help, or online Library staff assistance and classes for non-English speakers.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Seattle Public Library;

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