Survey asks library customers about technology use

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Keeping up with changing technology requires vigilance and Sno-Isle Libraries is asking its customers to help keep an eye on what is working for them at their library.

From April 2-16, an online survey will ask library customers how they use and value various library technology services. Sno-Isle Libraries and other libraries around the country are working with the University of Washington Information School on what is known as the “Impact Survey.”

The survey is offered every two years and this is the third time Sno-Isle Libraries has participated.

In 2014, library district officials used the information from the survey to inform and adjust services such as public computers, wireless internet access, online resources and digital literacy training.

In 2016, the survey results helped library-district officials make decisions about the optimal number of computers in community libraries and the types of public computing classes offered, said Anne Murphy, lead librarian for public computing.

“Customers continue to tell us that services such as internet access and printing are valuable, even for those with access at home,” Murphy said. “It is also clear that customers place a high value on assistance with technology from library staff members.”

One of the actions taken by the library district as a result of the survey is increased technology training for staff members.  “We want every customer to receive high-quality assistance with technology,” Murphy said.

From the 2018 survey results, Murphy said goals include monitoring trends on the number of personal devices connecting to library Wi-Fi networks as well as the types of activities customers are doing on library computers. “For example, is the improving economy affecting the number of employment-related uses,” Murphy said.

The Impact Survey is just one of a number of tools the library district uses to understand customer needs and then respond to those needs, Murphy said. In 2016, more than 1,000 customers responded to the survey, easily surpassing the goal of 400 respondents.

The survey results from Sno-Isle customers also help inform the national study. The Impact Survey is an ongoing national research project with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.