This paper aims to report on the findings of the first phase of a three‐phase research project that explores the use of public libraries by non‐residents and how public library directors perceive the value of non‐resident use for their libraries and communities. The findings will inform public librarians by revealing strategies and policies that are used for serving non‐resident users.
In‐depth interviews were conducted with 18 library directors throughout the Appalachian region of the eastern USA. A grounded analysis of the interview transcripts using NVivo 8 software was undertaken.
A variety of non‐resident user types was identified. Approaches to offering library services to non‐resident users varied accordingly. People visit communities for a variety of reasons; tourism, genealogical research, or family visits are just a few examples. In doing so, these visitors usually bolster the communities' economies.
By effectively serving the needs of non‐residents, public libraries support the economic development of their resident communities. These services should be documented, evaluated, and publicized. Libraries with unique collections might consider promoting themselves as destination libraries.
This article is a valuable addition to the literature as little research has been reported about non‐resident library use. In an increasingly mobile society, public librarians must begin a meaningful dialog about how to best serve these important customers.
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