What do the public want from libraries? Practitioner guide

What do the public want from libraries? Practitioner guide

By Museums Libraries & Archives


This guide for library practitioners draws on a large scale piece of research into the attitudes and wants of library users and suggests ways forward for library professionals as well as offering a series of case studies. Key recommendations around the user experience include:
  • Pay close attention to stock performance
  • Stock selection is arguably a library’s most important set of choices
  • Ensure an expanded offer (including coffee and training and employment support)
  • ‘Extra’ offers can be used to attract new users, without incurring additional net expenditure and friends packages are an opportunity
  • Use customer insight to make changes
Key recommendations around communication include:
  • Build awareness of the full range of services
  • Keep the brand in people’s minds
  • Marketing needs leadership and a share of resources
  • Grow the offer - if it fits with the brand 
  • Keep in touch - with mailing list and digital marketing
  • Segment and target the audience 
Key recommendations around libraries as public spaces include:
  • Don’t lose (quiet) seated reading space
  • Exploit larger spaces to entice target groups
  • Managing the quality of the physical space is an important responsibility
  • Involve library users in managing the space
  • Libraries can offer themselves as gateways to other services

This guide is born out of the results of a new landmark piece of research that explores in depth what people today really want from library services. Our research discovered afresh that public libraries really do hold a special place in the nation’s hearts. Even people who rarely use libraries themselves see them as essential for others and for society as a whole.

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Communication Libraries Research
Resource type: Research | Published: 2013