Libraries have long struggled with how to get information from their patrons about what they would like their library to provide. This just got a lot easier at the West Chicago Public Library District -- at least in understanding what its frequent library users want.
For three weeks last month, the Library provided its e-newsletter subscribers with a direct link to a brief survey specifically designed to inform digital content purchasing decisions. This quick, three-question survey allowed patrons the opportunity to weigh in on whether they preferred fiction or non-fiction, as well as whether they preferred the e-book or e-audiobook format and what devices they were using to access content.
"Libraries are transforming themselves," says Administrative Librarian Melody E. Coleman. "While books remain a key component of what we do, we are also delivering content and experiences to our community in new and different ways to meet the needs of our patrons."
Over the past year, e-book circulation at the West Chicago Public Library has increased over 40%. Digital media options range from e-books, both fiction and non-fiction, to e-audiobooks and e-magazines. Because these digital formats are more expensive than their print counterparts, and because library budgets aren't growing, it's essential for librarians to know exactly what kinds of digital media their patrons want in order to make the best possible purchasing decisions.
"Because of limited resources, we want to ensure that we purchase the materials that residents of the District seek," says Adult Services Manager Benjamin R. Weseloh. "Including short surveys in our weekly e-news provides a quick and easy way for patrons to inform our purchasing decisions, particularly our growing e-media collection."
For now, "the survey says…" West Chicago Public Library District will be purchasing much more fiction in e-book format. Thank you to all who took the time to respond.