Surveying the Field
In May, Library Strategies surveyed a pool of past and potential clients for their views on what would be important to libraries going forward after the pandemic. The following represents the results in brief. The full results are available upon request.
- Most respondents (about 50%) were library staff. As a point of clarity: though we gave the option of identifying themselves with more specificity, most Library Directors and State Librarians who responded often chose to designate themselves “library staff.”
- Urban or suburban library systems in the upper Midwest of the United States were most represented, though we had a scattering of responses from other locations. (Most responses came from services areas of 10,000 – 50,000 and 250,000 – 1M).
- In answer to the question: related to COVID-19 what are your biggest challenges? concerns about safe reopening and staff safety are the top, followed by adaptations required by the new service model.(Foundations and Friends groups were most concerned with fundraising.)
- Though funding was not of immediate concern to survey takers, when thinking long term, 63% of respondents indicating that “meeting the needs of a changing community within a static or declining budget” was of most concern, followed by “expanding understanding of the library as a place to check out books to a center for diverse learning opportunities, career resources, literacy programs, etc.”
- If funding were not an issue, expanding the perception of the library surfaced as the top priority of the survey respondents.
- Those who took the survey responded that the most important pieces of their library vision are: “Advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion to make the library more welcoming for all members of the community.” This sentiment is also reflected in the high degree of interest in creating programs that serve changing communities, advancing early learning, literacy, and school-readiness, and creating more spaces for gathering and socializing.