Patrons’ survey shows satisfaction

Published 4:42 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

By Staff
During the week of Feb. 6 - 11, each individual entering the library was asked to fill out a survey. At the end of the week, 1,106 surveys had been completed and returned.
The Board of Trustees and staff use the survey results in making decisions about library services and programs. A similar survey was done two years ago, and provided a basis for comparison.
The first questions on the survey asked about where the respondent lives. About 75 percent of those filling out the survey live in the library's service area of the city and township of Niles, while 25 percent came from Buchanan, Cass County, Berrien Springs and other nearby communities.
Our patrons visit the library often. Over 80 percent of the respondents come to the library at least once a month.
The survey asked patrons to express their opinions on what hours and days the library should be open. Patrons were given two choices. The first choice was to leave the library's hours of operation the same as they are currently.
The other choice was to close the library on Monday, and be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays during the months of September through May. Given these two choices, 72 percent of patrons preferred leaving the hours the same. Decisions about any changes in hours will be made by the Board in the coming months.
One section of the survey asked about how familiar the respondents were with the library's services. When the survey was done two years ago, the library's online catalog was very new. Only 35 percent of the patrons asked knew that they could look at their account, renew and reserve items online.
Today, more than half of our patrons know about our online services and nearly a quarter of our patrons use these services.
Patrons were asked to check which library activities they had participated in during the previous 12 months. The single most common reason people come to the library is to check out books.
Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated they had checked out books in the previous 12 months. Almost 50 percent indicated they had checked out videos. About 40 percent of our patrons come to the library to read and relax; to use the computer lab; to use the photocopiers; and to ask reference questions.
We asked patrons to rate their satisfaction level in a number of areas, including convenience of parking, availability of computers, availability of books and the helpfulness of staff. Parking was the area which had the greatest level of dissatisfaction.
Six percent of patrons were either "very" or "somewhat" dissatisfied with the parking at the library. The greatest level of satisfaction was with the library's staff. Over 90 percent of patrons were "very" or "always" satisfied with the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff.
The biggest surprise in the survey came in the area which asked respondents to prioritize several possible new services and improvements. By a significant margin, the potential new service which our patrons felt was most important was providing service to our homebound citizens. As a result, the Board will be looking closely at the possibility of funding such a service beginning next year.
More detailed information about the survey results is available on the library's website at .