Part of the third phase of the Envisioning the library of the future research project, this report summarises the results of a survey carried out to discover what people think about libraries. The survey asked respondents five open questions about their use of public libraries, as well as their views on their value, purpose and ideal qualities. These open-ended questions enabled free expression of opinions and ideas. There were 1,433 responses to the survey and a full breakdown of the results is provided in this document.
Libraries are valued for their atmosphere, the resources they offer and their role in the local community and wider society. They are valued because they enable individuals to broaden their knowledge by providing access to a wide range of reliable reading material or by organising and hosting interesting talks. The value of libraries for personal use is backed up by the fact that negative comments about the library service often relate to how public library resources are not suited to a particular individual’s needs, for example an insufficient range of reading material on offer, or a long waiting list for the most popular fiction.