Library Use Survey Provides Insight to Develop Services

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Salem Public Library commissioned a survey of community Library use in 2018. The goal was to gain a deeper understanding of Salem Public Library customers and the Salem community to develop library services that continue to deliver relevant programs, materials and services.

Challenges

  • 68,000 cardholders were not active within the past 12 months. However, 38,000 cardholders were active in that time frame.

  • About 25% of households in the Library service area have an active Library card.

  • Only 44% of cardholders remain active a year after their signup date.

  • Salem's population growth rate was 11% from 2012-2018, but active cardholder growth was <1%. 60% of respondents point to the Library's inconvenient locations as part of the problem, while 60% point to the fact that the community doesn't know all that the Library offers.

  • Overall, current users are pleased with Library services. Complaints include limited hours of operation and paid parking.

Opportunities

  • Some residents use the Library extensively ― nearly 30% of young adults and 20% of elementary age children

  • Current users say they would come in more often if the Library were more convenient, with more e-books, extended hours, better availability of best-sellers, and shorter wait times.

  • Half of Library users have a strong connection to books. They use other media options as well, and prefer using the Library to purchasing items.

  • Some users are happiest with the print collections, but there is also increased growth in e-book and audio book usage.

The survey highlights ways to engage current users, as well as attract new users who have yet to discover all the Library has to offer. The Salem area survey was conducted in 2018 by OrangeBoy, Inc., a market and customer research firm.

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