Hear directly from Attain Partners library consultants in our on-demand webinar, The Versatility of Library User Surveys: Why Libraries Need Them and How We Can Help.
Providing Services that Resonate with Library Patrons
The first goal of every library is to provide useful, relevant resources and services for its patrons. In fact, without its patrons, a library has no reason to exist. But how do libraries determine which resources, materials, and services to provide? The market is flooded with assessment tools and philosophies that can make deciding on a method confusing, but the one aspect consistent across the most successful assessment tools is the use of a library user survey.
Leverage Library User Surveys to Gain Insight
There is no doubt that libraries need to know what their patrons need and want, and there is simply no better way to find that out than to directly ask them! National trends and benchmarking can help provide new ideas or focus areas, but without surveying actual library users there is no way to determine a specific goal with tasks that will benefit the community.
For example, a leading national trend for public libraries is a focus on inclusivity, but what does that truly mean? In a community with a large Spanish-speaking population, it likely would include a higher number of Spanish language materials, but what and how many materials should be purchased? Does the library need to ensure the librarians available speak Spanish? Should the website have a translation available? Are there school-aged children who would benefit from bilingual resources that match the local school curriculum? Libraries have limited budgets and cannot address every single need or task to reach a bigger goal, so what takes priority? User surveys would address these kinds of questions to go beyond the initial ideas and help identify specific tasks or activities to reach a goal.
Designing a User-friendly Library Survey
So, now a library has decided the best next step is to implement a library user survey as part of its assessment, but how does it decide how many and what questions to ask? Users can quickly get survey fatigue, especially if there are too many questions or if the users feel the questions are irrelevant to them.
At Attain Partners, our consultants are experts in the design and implementation of library user surveys. We spend the time getting to know our clients and their organizations to ensure all questions are directly relevant to obtainable goals and the community the library serves. Questions are formulated to gain specific data for focused goals while providing users the opportunity to offer their own ideas for what they would like to see in their library.
We also provide the survey in a variety of formats to not only reach as many users as possible, but to prevent survey fatigue. The use of web intercepts and QR codes to provide the survey in an electronic format allows us to design the surveys to skip questions based on the users’ answers, so they only answer questions relevant to them.
Attain Partners closely collaborates with libraries to ensure library user surveys are individualized and specific to a library community.
Attain Partners – Library Experts
At Attain Partners, our consultants work with university, public, and school libraries to design and implement effective library user surveys to inform critical financial and strategic decisions. Contact our team today to find out more about how our consultants will work with your library to create a valuable assessment tool!
Learn more about our Library Planning and Strategy services here.
About the Author
Ms. Blake Norby is a Senior Library Consultant for the Research Enterprise Services practice of Attain Partners. During her time with Attain Partners, Ms. Norby has been involved in multiple library consulting projects with higher education institutions. She has participated in various stages of Facilities & Administrative Expense (F&A) strategic planning, proposal preparation and submission, and space functional usage studies with a focus on library spaces. Ms. Norby brings over 13 years’ experience working in libraries with extensive knowledge of using patron data to create inclusive, accessible library spaces and programs. She is currently a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the American Library Association (ALA) including the Public Library Association, and several additional roundtables and special interest groups.