Library survey results revealed

Duane Hicks

A recent survey conducted by the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre shows many people love their library, but they also would like to see more programming offered at more convenient times.
“A number of recurring themes emerged throughout the survey regarding the library’s strengths, which include our collections, events, staff, as well as our physical space itself,” said library CEO Caroline Goulding, who made a presentation to council Monday night along with library board chair Andrew Hallikas.
“So the library makes a number of positive contributions to the community,” she noted.
“We’re a community hub that fosters a sense of community and are a safe space.
“We offer something for everyone–we offer entertainment; we offer educational opportunities, especially literacy skills development; and we have equitable access for everyone,” Goulding added.
The survey responses were “overwhelmingly positive,” with the few negative responses suggesting that barriers to library use include the fact the collection is too small, that people need more help using technology, the cost of using the library, and its hours of operation, she noted.
When asked what new services the library should offer, respondents focused on the need for more programs and a larger, more varied collection.
“The programs the community would like to see include more after-school programming, especially homework help and teen activities, adult language classes, computer classes, more adult workshops, music classes, and more clubs,” Goulding explained.
People also want to see these programs at a time which suits their schedule, “meaning evenings and weekends,” she later added.
The library wants to ensure the services it offers align with the needs of the community.
To that end, the survey offered community-focused questions, asking people to describe their ideal community, how that differs from the current state of the community, and what needs to change.
“Many of the responses touched on the need to work together,” said Goulding.
“The library is already engaged in a number of partnerships within the community which have been incredibly successful,” she noted.
“Those include things like the Rainy River District Library Co-operative as well as ‘Trunk or Treat.’
“We now know that the community supports this work and, in fact, would like to see us do many more inter-organizational partnerships,” Goulding added.
The survey was conducted from late July to early October as a way of ensuring the library is doing everything it can to meet the changing needs of the community, and include that input into the library’s strategic plan.
“The library board will be continuing to delve into this data during the strategic planning process,” noted Goulding.
“It will use feedback from the community to guide development so that we can continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of the people that we serve,” she added.
The survey also was part of the ongoing accreditation process the local library is engaged in.
To become accredited, the local library must meet a number of best practices as outlined within the Ontario Public Library Guidelines, noted Hallikas.
“Our intent in seeking accreditation is to ensure that we provide the very best possible library service to our community,” he remarked.
“And it’s also a way to demonstrate to council that the funds that they provide for library service are well-spent.”
The survey saw 170 respondents in total, which only comprises a small amount of the population but is, in fact, “amazing” for a library survey, Goulding assured.