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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2018

John Shepherd, Larissa Petrillo and Allan Wilson

The purpose of this paper is to describe how recent immigrants and refugees to Canada (“newcomers”) use the facilities of a large, urban public library. As the library…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how recent immigrants and refugees to Canada (“newcomers”) use the facilities of a large, urban public library. As the library previously surveyed the general user population, the responses to the two surveys can be compared.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires were administered as patrons were leaving Surrey Libraries Branches to adult public library members who self-identified as newcomers who arrived in Canada within the previous ten years.

Findings

The pattern of library use by newcomers differed from that of the general population. They visited more frequently and stayed longer. Newcomers were heavier users of library services and used a wider range of services. They used the library branch as a public place. The library provided them with a place to study, read or meet other people.

Research limitations/implications

The study was exploratory. The small sample size and the data collection process do not allow extrapolation to the underlying population.

Practical implications

Recent newcomers often have similar informational, psychological and social needs. Public libraries can play a role in assisting newcomers during their adjustment process.

Originality/value

Researchers worked closely with library management to develop questions based on decision usefulness. An earlier in-house study allowed comparisons to be made between branch use by newcomers and general library users. Canadian studies into government policy, along with immigrant and refugee studies, provide context for the survey results.

Details

Library Management, vol. 39 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 November 2019

John Shepherd, Larissa Petrillo and Allan Wilson

The purpose of this paper is to summarize a library use study of the central and community branches of a Canadian public library. An exit survey documented the in-branch…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to summarize a library use study of the central and community branches of a Canadian public library. An exit survey documented the in-branch activities of users as a part of a library strategic planning process. Survey results were used in combination with branch statistics, postal code circulation statistics, neighbourhood demographics and other data sources to document the in-library use of the two facilities.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires were administered to library users 15 years of age or older at the exits of the central and community branches. The survey collected data on their activities and services used during their current visit. Additional sources such as branch-level statistics, furniture tally sheets, photographs, Canada Census data and circulation analysis by patron postal code and lending branch were used during the analysis stage.

Findings

Both branches are heavily used but in different ways. Branch circulation and gate count per square foot of floor space were high relative to other Canadian libraries. Patron visits to the community branch were short in duration, in line with previous public library studies. User visit duration and in-library activities within the main branch somewhat resembled those of the central branch of a larger library system but likely for different reasons.

Research limitations/implications

The study was exploratory. Data were collected during two coinciding days of library operation, a Thursday and a Saturday, and may not be representative of the underlying population. The study was limited in scope as it was a community service project for undergraduate university students.

Practical implications

Branch library use surveys, in combination with library statistics and demographics, can provide useful insights concerning in-library patron behaviour when the use of ethnographic techniques is not feasible.

Originality/value

The study explored differences and similarities in user behaviour in two types of library facilities, a central and a community branch. Few published studies make such a direct comparison. The study explored the perceived benefits received by patrons from public library use and incorporated branch statistics, circulation analysis and Census data.

Details

Library Management, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

Keywords

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