In March, before our world was upended by a virus, nearly 400 Neill Public Library users took our patron survey to provide feedback on your library’s services. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy lives to complete the survey. We learned so much and even with a staffing shortage, we are working hard to implement improvements to address your suggestions and concerns.
Happily, more than 70 percent of respondents visit the library at least once a month (great news) and more than 90 percent give our borrowing experience, customer service and overall atmosphere four or five stars. Top service priorities for patrons include internet access, children’s programs and quiet reading and work space. Most patrons come to the library to borrow materials for adults and youth, but a significant number (38 percent) come just to relax, and another 35 percent come to seek assistance from our library staff.
In terms of the library’s budget, the top patron priorities are new physical and e-materials. That’s always reflected in our checkout numbers as well. The new stuff goes first. Programs for children, teens/tweens and adults came in a close second in the budget part of the survey.
There were also many suggestions for improvement. More quiet reading and study space was requested by many, as were more book club and adult programming options. Parking, and the lack of it, was a common theme, along with concerns regarding fines and fees. Expanded hours were a popular suggestion, particularly on weekends. Many other patrons mentioned they interact with the library mostly online, and wished for more e-materials and services.
We’ve already used the insights from the survey to inform ongoing library services. When deciding which hours to offer curbside pickup of materials, for example, we did our best to accommodate the priorities indicated in the survey results (while some prefer mornings, most favor afternoons and early evenings). We’ve created a new online form to suggest titles for the library to purchase, and we’re working on implementing text message notifications for library hold pickups and due date notices. And though our resources are currently very limited, we’re doing our best to address the demand for e-books and e-audio.
We also want to acknowledge the hundreds of compliments you sent in, all of which were wonderful to read. A couple of my personal favorites were, “if I have had a bad day, I sometimes visit Neill,” and “outside of my home, NPL is easily my favorite place to be in Pullman.” Thanks so much to everyone who responded to our survey. It really lifts our spirits in these strange and difficult times, and it goes to show that we have the greatest library patrons in the world.
As we slowly move toward something approaching normalcy, we’ll be relying on survey insights to continue improving Neill Public Library. And though the survey is now closed, we’re always open to more feedback. Feel free to contact us anytime with your thoughts and suggestions. We’re happy to listen.
Dan Owens is the adult services librarian at Neill Public LIbrary in Pullman.