TRL 2015 Impact Survey
In February 2015, Timberland Regional Library conducted a technology Impact Survey to understand how patrons use the Library’s public technology services.
Thanks very much to the 2575 people who responded to the survey questions and provided almost 1,000 additional comments and suggestions.
97% of the survey respondents had visited the library in the last year.
- 70% accessed library resources through library public computers;
- 93% accessed library resources through the library’s website from outside the library;
- 50% accessed library resources using a handheld device such as a cellphone, eReader or tablet.
For more information see several Impact Survey reports on the TRL website.
TRL reviews the survey results for future budget planning for technology and other library services.
Response to Survey Comments
The survey comments have been reviewed and several themes emerged which are addressed below.
Internet/Wi-fi speed issues
There were several comments about slow Internet and Wifi speed in the libraries. There has been a huge increase in the use of the TRL Internet and Wifi networks over the last couple of years and especially the last year. This is due to increasing numbers of patrons bringing smartphones, tablets and laptops into the library and accessing the Internet, often for streaming video or music. TRL doubled the speed of our Internet connection this year in late April and expects to increase it again in July 2015 to meet the demand.
Wi-Fi hours of availability and in parking lots
Free Wi-Fi is available at all libraries from 6:00 am to midnight seven days/week. Although occasionally patrons may need Internet access between midnight and 6:00 am, it has been determined that it could be a safety issue if people and cars congregate in library parking lots during those hours. Wi-Fi is intended to be a service primary for inside the library. In many libraries the Wi-Fi signal extends outside the building, but there is no intent to extend the signal to all areas of library parking lots.
Library Catalog and website
There were comments about simplifying or improving the library catalog and website. The library catalog system vendor provides updates to the system several times a year and TRL welcomes suggestions for specific improvements to the library catalog or website through email@example.com or by phone, email or chat to the Ask A Librarian service.
Library Catalog Checkout History, My Lists, Reading Suggestions, Mobile App
There were requests for the following features which are already available:
- “Checkout History” in the library catalog: This feature keeps track of the titles you have checked out and is available in the new library catalog when you login to My Account. “Checkout History” is optional. Patrons can turn it on themselves in My Account or ask library staff for help.
- “My Lists” in the library catalog: There is a “My Lists” feature in the library catalog when you login to My Account. Patrons can create an unlimited number of Lists to keep track of possible future checkouts. My Lists do not expire.
- Lists of new items in the library: New Items in the Library lists are available on the library website and from the front page of the library catalog.
- Help with reading suggestions: Patrons are always encouraged to ask library staff for reading suggestions and may also find reading suggestions in TRL Booklists for all ages and TRL Email Newsletters, online Books and Literature resources on the website and Ask a Librarian for Reading Suggestions.
- Mobile app for the TRL catalog and website: TRL has a mobile app for the library catalog with links to the TRL Events calendars and other TRL online resources. See more information on the TRL website about TRL Mobile Apps, including apps for digital collections.
More computers, longer computer sessions –
TRL must balance the space needed for computers as well as shelving for the library collection and tables and chairs for reading, studying, collaborating, relaxing and for using the Wi-Fi with personal devices. In many libraries, it is challenging to create additional space for computers. Patrons may call the library to schedule a computer session up to 7 days in advance or may use any library computer to schedule sessions in advance. If there are available computers, library staff can give patrons additional time.
Computer and technology help for patrons
Is technology training and assistance available?
TRL libraries offer a wide variety of technology assistance including help with:
- Internet searching
- Use of TRL’s website, especially how to effectively use many research and learning databases, such as those for business information
- Basic and intermediate computer skills
- Resume and cover letter writing
- Job skills and searching
- Microsoft office, including Word, Excel and Publisher
- E-devices, such as Kindle and iPad
- Downloading books, music and movies via OverDrive, Freegal, hoopla, Zinio, and other services
- Library Catalog searching
- Use with TRL’s Wi-Fi and printing services
- Use of our collections, including subject specific orientations and training
- Off-site instruction and assistance, especially at WorkSource, educational institutions/organizations, JBLM, community and social organizations and others
How do patrons ask for or learn about technology training and assistance?
- Visit any of the 27 libraries and ask for the staff assistance.
- Contact our Ask a Librarian service by phone, email or chat.
- Classes and opportunities for one-on-one assistance are often advertised on the TRL Facebook page or local library Facebook pages and on our Events calendar on the website.
Are there instructions available beyond the basic?
- Staff are able to offer intermediate level instruction on using computers or accessing TRL and other resources via computers or e-devices.
- Classes and workshops are geared to subject matter and skills beyond the basic.
Are online learning resources available?
- There are many online learning resources including Gale Courses and Microsoft IT Academy.
- Over 70 learning and research databases are available on topics from genealogy to auto repair.
- Downloadable collections include books on many topics, such as computers and technology, job and resume assistance, educational materials, and test prep.
Many respondents asked for more ebooks and other digital or downloadable items such as movies or audiobooks. And, many asked for more print books.
The TRL Collection Services Department constantly reviews the collections budget to address the needs of all our communities, evaluating the balance between books and downloadable items. Currently the materials budget is 15.9% of TRL’s overall budget.
The budget for the digital collection (e-books and e-Audio) has increased significantly since 2011. In 2011 the digital collection was 3.6% of the materials budget. In 2014 the digital collection was 12.0% of the overall materials budget.
In the last 16 months, we have added Hoopla Digital and Zinio Digital Magazines to our collection and increased the number of checkouts available to our customers on OverDrive, Hoopla and Freegal.
Survey respondents asked that all titles in their favorite series be available at the library. TRL buys titles in series that we own as soon as they become available from the publisher. We attempt to replace missing titles in series, but that is not always possible due to titles being out print. We have also encountered problems in trying to buy series in other formats, such as audiobooks and eBooks. This is because titles may be out of print, have not been made available in another format, or the publisher may restrict or limit purchases to libraries.
More Open Hours
Many respondents asked for more open hours in their local libraries. Some wanted earlier hours; others wanted later hours; some asked for Sunday hours. Open hours is an ongoing budget issue. The number of open hours is directly related to the number of staff hours available which is determined by the available budget. The cost of additional open hours is the cost of staffing.
Last fall, Timberland added a total of 58 hours per week in 26 of the 27 libraries. This service improvement was achieved through schedule adjustments. The changes did not increase the budget.
Awareness of all library services
The Impact Survey comments reveal that many library users are unaware of the wide range of library services available. To increase public understanding, recognition and use of library services, TRL has made the following efforts to close the information gap:
- Each month a different service is hightlighted through the TRL website, email and print newsletters, TRL Facebook (all local libraries are also on Facebook), Twitter, and posters in the libraries.
- Throughout the year, TRL’s Library Director, Library Managers and other staff members present to community groups, schools and local governments about library services, engaging audience members in discussions of common needs such as job search skills and homework support.
- Hundreds of information packets are mailed to business and community leaders, public officials, real estate offices and public service agencies to enhance awareness of library services. If you would like a packet, please call 360-943-5001 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2014 Annual Report, released last February, focused heavily on library services and partnerships with community organizations to better reach and serve the public’s needs.