Franklin County residents value local libraries

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Franklin County Library System conducted a patron and employee survey in September to determine long-range library system strategies for the next three to five years. The results show that a large majority of patrons see community libraries as extremely important.  Local libraries are very valuable to community members and are perceived as having a strong and positive impact on the community at large.

The 848 respondents representing all Franklin County Library System branches filled out online surveys on questions about their household demographics, as well as numerous questions about the materials, staff and services that the libraries provide.  The important information in the results has enabled the library system to more clearly identify who the patrons are and what they want in the years to come.

Almost half of the survey participants were between the ages of 31 and 55, a large majority of responders were female, and 64 percent have at least a two-year college degree.  Nearly 80 percent are married or live with a partner and 58 percent live in a household with an income of $50,000 or higher.

More than half of the patrons use some kind of library resources at least once every two weeks and two-thirds utilize online library services of some kind.  Eighty-six percent of patrons who responded said it is extremely important to have a community library, 65 percent believe the libraries have a very strong impact on the well-being of a community and 75 percent acknowledged that the library is extremely important to them personally.

When asked if they were given $100 to spend on increased or improved services, the top five items were more adult fiction books, more children's books, more adult non-fiction books, more best-sellers, and e-books.  Library patrons were overwhelmingly pleased with staff members and the services they provide.  Respondents were highly satisfied in the areas of helpfulness, level of customer service, accessibility and expertise.  

Patrons also were aware of the different ways that libraries are funded, including local funds, state funds, private donations and fees.  However, they would like more information on fundraisers and other ways to support the libraries.  And, while they are very happy with library staff, there are opportunities for improvement in the areas of online resources, technology, facilities and library hours.  

Bernice Crouse, Executive Director, says, “The survey results reaffirm our mission to improve the lives of residents of the region through access to materials, information, and services, imparting knowledge, experience and wisdom of others.  Franklin County Library System will continue to plan to be a leader and initiator of programs and services that enrich people's lives and increase their knowledge through collections, outreach programs, technology and leadership abilities for years to come.”  

Franklin County Library System strives to continue to play an important role in the lives of its residents, and needs the ongoing support of its patrons and local and state governments to do so.  For opportunities on how to help, please contact Bernice Crouse, Executive Director at 709-0282 x 212.