I finally had the chance to read the Long Overdue study that recently came out.Â Prior to reading the report, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical.Â I don’t tend to trust surveys and research studies, because I believe that statistics can be skewed to say what the authors of the survey or study want them to say.Â A good example of this was an obesity study conducted a while back.Â The results released from this study claimed that girls who regularly ate breakfast, particularly cereal, were slimmer than those who skipped breakfast.Â Although breakfast might help in preventing obesity, I have a difficult time puttingÂ aÂ lot of faith into this study, because it was partly funded by General Mills.Â Therefore, when I saw that the Long Overdue study was supported by the Americans for Libraries Council, IÂ wasn’t too surprised that the report would put libraries in a positive light.Â PleaseÂ know that I want libraries to be reported in a positive light, and I truly believe that the public finds libraries as beneficial to the community, so it wouldn’t surprise me to hear positive results.Â But I simply couldn’t help being a bit skeptical.Â I was pleasantly surprised, however, that the report included both strengths and weaknesses that came out of the survey.
Here are some of the highlights I found interesting:
- One recurring theme I found throughout the report is that libraries need to do a better job of marketing themselves.Â More on this throughout the highlights.
-Â The survey found that the libraries biggest supporters, or “community soldiers,” aren’t aware of the financial difficulties that libraries are facing.Â This is one of the potential marketing needs.Â It doesn’t help to have supporters if they don’t know the library actually needs their support.
- A low percentageÂ gave libraries anÂ ”A” on online access to catalogs and databases.Â Once again, this seems like a marketing issue, because I’m sure that the majority of libraries (at least the larger branches)Â have at least online catalogs in this day and age.
- A low percentage gave an “A” for teen programs.Â My assumption on this area is that this is also a marketing issue, but I can only base this assumptionÂ on my local public libraries, which I know provide various teen programs.
- One result that doesn’t come as a surprise is that the majority of those surveyed believe free services should be a priority.Â However, only half support tax increasesÂ to cover costs involved in continuing operation.Â A good real life example of this isÂ near me.Â The City ofÂ Mesa voted against establishing property taxes, even though the result was a cut in public services including libraries and parks.
- “When libraries are well-funded, they are perceived to be running well.” Ok, I just couldn’t resist including this quote.
The following statistics aren’t dealt with in the written report, but I think they deserve some consideration:
- 65% of all those surveyed have never visited the Internet site of a public library.
- 65% also think thatÂ having a cafe inside the libraryÂ is a low priority.
- 60% think that the information they find by themselves on the Internet is more reliable or just as reliable as the information a reference librarian directs them to
- Almost all of those surveyed find it easy to find their way around the library.Â This one amazes me, because I have difficulty finding my way around most libraries.