The Clintonville Public Library is seeking a foundation to set goals for the future.
With an eye on looking at its services, how it is providing those services and where it wants to go in the future, the Clintonville Public Library surveyed residents of Clintonville, as well as residents of area communities.
“The question, ‘What do you want your library to look like in 8-10 years?’ really became our driving focus,” said Dr. Jerald Schoenike, president of the Clintonville Public Library Board of Trustees.
Schoenike said the board discussed for several months how to go about gathering that information. It eventually settled on surveying residents and non-residents.
The survey was conducted by the UW-Oshkosh Masters of Public Administration Program.
The library board received the results of the survey in a presentation, Monday, Dec. 8.
The survey contained 15 questions. The questions were developed in collaboration with the Clintonville Public Library and UW-Oshkosh. A total of 4,874 surveys were mailed to households in and around Clintonville.
The board was told that a statistically valid sample required 370 surveys to be returned. A total of 713 surveys were returned. That equates to a 15 percent response rate.
Of the respondents, 36.8 percent live in Clintonville. Rounding out the top five communities who use the Clintonville Public Library include: Marion (10.3 percent), Larrabee (10 percent), Matteson (8.4 percent) and Belle Plaine (7.6 percent).
When breaking down the numbers of the sex and age of those who use the library, it was found that the largest group using the library is females over age 55. This group comprises 52.5 percent. Second highest is males over 55 years old.
Of those between the ages of 18 and 55, females comprise 42.6 percent of library users, while males comprise 37.3 percent.
The two smallest groups are under 18 of age. Males under 18 comprise 16.3 percent of library users, while females comprise 15.4 percent.
A total of 75 percent of Clintonville respondents said they used the library in the last year. A total of 50.8 percent of non-Clintonville residents used the Clintonville Public Library within the last year.
A large number of respondents responded positively when asked about the library and its services. A total of 96 percent of respondents said the Clintonville Public Library is essential to the quality of life in the community. At total of 97.8 percent said the library staff is knowledgeable. And 97.9 percent said the library staff is responsive to visitors’ needs and inquires.
“People like the library, they’re overwhelmingly positive,” said Michael Ford, an assistant professor at UW-Oshkosh, who presented the results.
Ford added, “I’ve never seen something that high. That’s pretty unique.
Regarding the library’s website, 96 percent of the respondents think the library’s website is a useful tool and that it is easy to navigate. But 54 percent also said they don’t use the website.
Ford said this presents an opportunity for the library.
“People like what you have, but it needs more exposure,” Ford said.
The survey showed that library events are attended by only 22 percent of respondents. Of the 78 percent who don’t attend library events, 68.8 percent are from the city of Clintonville.
Later in the survey 44.9 percent of respondents said they were unaware of special events offered by the library.
Also, when asked why they don’t use the library on a regular basis, 48.5 percent said they borrow digital reading material from the library without visiting the library.
The survey also showed that at least 60 percent of the respondents used the Clintonville Public Library at least once a month.
When asked what they use the library for, 76.3 percent said they use the library to borrow books. Next was to borrow videos and DVDs at 44.6 percent. Rounding out the top three was to borrow best sellers and popular materials at 33.2 percent. Browse or borrow magazines, use reference materials, and attend programs and special events ranged from 22 to 25.4 percent.
“People view the library as traditional, to get materials,” Ford said.
Respondents were also asked to choose what materials, services and amenities should be emphasized at the Clintonville Public Library.
Children’s books topped the materials list, followed by adult fiction and adult non-fiction.
Children’s reading programs topped the services list, followed by public computer access and computer training.
Computer training classes topped the amenities list, followed by quiet areas and used bookstore.
Ford concluded that the “overwhelming majority of respondents think highly of the Clintonville Public Library staff, programming, and areas of emphasis.”
He added that the ongoing opportunities and challenges for the library include: website usage, attendance at special events, and the increased availability of digital materials.
Schoenike said the library board will take a closer look at the results over the next several months. He added that it will probably take about a year to devise a plan on how the library can plan for the future.