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Arts & Entertainment Top GRRL Library Use Survey
People use Great River Regional Library (GRRL) services primarily for leisure reading and entertainment purposes, according to a recent survey of GRRL users. In contrast to what their actual use is, when asked what the purpose of libraries should be, users and non-users placed learning support first, with art and entertainment a close second. GRRL surveyed the general public with the intention of identifying how library patrons use the library in order to help focus future activity. The results will be used during the development of the library’s new strategic plan for 2010 – 2012, according to Diane Vosen, the library’s Communication & Fund Development coordinator. The library system is required to file a plan with State Library Services at the Minnesota Department of Education to qualify for state financial support.
In order of preference, the purposes for library use were identified as:
1. Arts & Entertainment
Leisure reading, movies, music, etc.
2. Personal Interest/Hobbies
Genealogy, gardening, fishing, arts, sports, quilting, etc.
3. Learning Support
Homework resources, homeschooling, vocational, etc.
4. Essential Information
Consumer information, medical, self-help, do-it-yourself, etc.
5. Learning to Read
Reading readiness, literacy.
6. Communicate and Connect
Meet people, email, chat, etc.
7. Business, Career & Employment
Professional development, job search, resume development, etc.
When library users and non-users were asked to rank the top three purposes they thought the library should serve, the ranking changed, with Learning Support topping the chart.
1. Learning Support (3)
2. Arts & Entertainment (1)
3. Learning to Read (5)
4. Essential Information (4)
5. Personal Interest/Hobbies (2)
6. Business, Career & Employment (7)
7. Communicate and Connect (6)
(Figures in parentheses show actual use ranking.)
The finding that patrons mostly use the library for arts and entertainment purposes isn’t surprising, Vosen said. It appeared more than three times as often as the second choice and was consistent with statistical data on usage patterns. The preference for what purpose libraries should serve was not as strong, with Learning Support topping Arts & Entertainment by only a couple of percentage points.
GRRL provides library services in Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright Counties. Results from county to county varied. Although residents of all counties identified Arts & Entertainment as the most important purpose the library serves for them, this bias was strongest in the region’s more rural counties.
“It’s possible this is because rural areas don’t have the theaters, concert halls and retail outlets for arts and entertainment that are available in urban areas,” Vosen said.
The survey was completed in June, 2009. Responses were received from 392 individuals. All six counties in the region were represented approximately proportionally. Most of the respondents (71 percent) were library users.