Despite a growth in demand that public libraries be accountable to citizen needs, basic research into the socio‐cultural context in which libraries operate, particularly…
Despite a growth in demand that public libraries be accountable to citizen needs, basic research into the socio‐cultural context in which libraries operate, particularly cross‐culturally, is still needed. Durrance and Fisher have argued that libraries have too long relied on output measures to indicate library efficiency (and to justify funding) but that such measures do not reflect the social, cultural or other values actually held or gained by library users. This observation begs the question, what socio‐cultural functions do public libraries actually have? What values do they reinforce? What needs are met? How do public libraries fit into the larger social fabric of public and private institutions? And how might these functions vary from one society to another? This paper aims to address these issues.
The questions are similar in scope to those found in museum studies (for example, see the book series Museum Meanings edited by Eilean Hooper‐Greenhill and Flora Kaplan), but have been rarely applied to libraries. In an unusual research collaboration we explore these questions relying on both qualitative and quantitative methods to gauge some of the socio‐cultural functions of a public library in Japan.
Of primary concern is the methodological problem of developing questions that draw out values and concepts of which the visitors themselves may not be explicitly aware. In this research the paper attempts to draw out not just the satisfaction levels of patrons, but to delineate something of the patrons' own conception of their public library. Studying a rather unusual library by Japanese standards, it is found that some patrons have responded to the particularly strong community focus of the library director.
Socio‐cultural studies of the functions of libraries are rare. This study therefore can act as an exemplar for further international studies.
The purpose of this paper is to examine and discuss the basis for management decisions among options expressed by customer groups on the basis of their perception and…
The purpose of this paper is to examine and discuss the basis for management decisions among options expressed by customer groups on the basis of their perception and assessment of library service.
In 2008, the authors investigated how customers perceive library functions and assessed the actual activities of Echigawa Library (Shiga prefecture, Japan). Two consecutive analyses were conducted: factor analysis and cluster analysis in order to segment the customers into individual groups based on their perception of libraries. Each of the segments of library customers was then examined to ascertain how they appreciate and make use of the Echigawa Library.
The survey results indicate that in general the customers show a high demand for multiple library services and give a good grade for its services delivery. Four groups of library customers are identified by cluster analysis; however, their demand for service and judgment of the adequacy of service delivery are fairly diverse. Among them, one customer group shows a reasonably positive response to the range of library services and is confirmed to be a yardstick group.
Since library evaluation should provide the criteria for determining management decisions, the question of which groups of customers the library should take into consideration is vital. This question is solved through the detailed investigation of empirical data.
The paper investigates the particular situation of a small library to offer a model that could be used globally for a more subtle and precise approach to the improvement of library service than is usually attempted.