Latest Survey Reveals Public Libraries Improve the Quality of Life for Visitors

The global market and media research company Kantar has conducted a survey of Lithuanian libraries to find out how library visitors rate the quality of the services provided by these institutions, their opinion about the libraries’ internet service as well as to gain insights on the habits, motives and benefits of the usage of the public internet access in libraries. The survey which took place from 28 May 2019 to 3 October 2019 involved a sample of 4,668 visitors aged 15 or older. In summarising results from the survey, Renata Sadunišvili, Insight and Marketing Research Director at Kantar, said that Lithuanian libraries have earned a very high level of trust among visitors, they are making real efforts to change and improve the quality of life of visitors and that they meet their expectations and have established themselves as strong centres of community life. “There is one challenge that the extensive, unified and strong network of Lithuanian libraries and its professional staff is tackling. That challenge is to develop strategies, implement them and uphold the high levels of service,” said the insight and research specialist.

The global market and media research company Kantar conducted the survey in cooperation with the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. A live broadcast was held on 30 January 2020 at the National Library’s TV studio to present the results of the survey. The data of the survey were compared to those obtained during the survey of the users of the public internet access conducted as part of the project “Libraries for Innovation 1”.

The survey was presented by Kantar’s representatives, Renata Sadunišvili, Skaistė Varnienė, Alicija Miliauskienė, and Director of the National Library’s Project Management Department, Giedrė Čistovienė.

“The results of the survey clearly show the changes that have taken place over the last decade and shed light on the value created by libraries. Besides helping to address the problems relating to the digital divide, libraries also make real efforts to help people deal with their day-to-day issues and promote the deployment of new products and services in various locations by providing an access to information technology to those with limited opportunities, i. e. rural residents, older people or people who have low income,” said Mrs. Čistovienė.

Currently, there are 1,240 public libraries in Lithuania. The national average is one library per 2,254 people. Nearly 1,000 of them are located in rural areas.

The respondents usually perceive the library as a nice place to spend time which has qualified specialists who provide professional assistance. The importance of librarians has increased and there have been some changes in the role of librarians, compared to the year 2009. In 2019, the librarian became a consultant and one of the most important motivators encouraging the use of library services (an increase from 22 percent to 46 percent has been observed).

The library users rated the services provided by the libraries as very good (an average rating is 9.5 out of 10). As many as 93 percent of the users reported that they would definitely recommend their family members or friends to visit a library. Such positive opinions about the library activities are further confirmed by a very high Net Promoter Score (NPS) which measures visitors’ satisfaction and loyalty. The NPS of the libraries is 91 percent. This index is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. It is also higher among older visitors.

The majority of the respondents (85 percent) visit physical libraries at least once a month. They usually go there 1–2 times a month. The most active users who visit the library more frequently than once a week accounted for one fourth of the respondents. People over the age of 55 make up the largest proportion of public library users. However, some regional differences have been observed. The largest age group of library users is much younger in the country’s capital and major cities, with people aged 18 to 35 making up the majority of library visitors.

As many as 99 percent of libraries offer a free internet access (compared to 53 percent in 2009). There has been a marked improvement in the information technology skills among library users as compared to 2009. 62 percent of users rated their computer skills as “fully satisfactory” in 2019 compared to 51 percent in 2009. A decade ago, public internet access in libraries was actively used by people aged 15 to 24. Meanwhile, today, people aged 45 to 65 make up the largest proportion of library internet users.

Although availability of internet access has been increasing steadily in Lithuania, it will retain its importance in the future, in particular in rural areas because as many as 98 percent of library internet access users intend to continue using it in the future. It is predicted that in the future, internet access in libraries will be used by those who are currently 45 years old or older with higher education level or advanced vocational education level and who have average income.

Oldest library users who live in rural areas have the fewest opportunities to use internet outside the library (42 percent.). Whereas in urban areas, the proportion of such senior citizens (65 years old or older) is 26 percent. People with disabilities, those who have lower education levels or lower income have fewer opportunities to use internet outside the library.

It has been found that library usage has a large impact on the users’ overall ability to critically assess changes in society (an average score of 7.2 out of 10). Library visitors, in particularly those living in rural areas, reported that the library helped them deal with practical issues and develop their critical thinking.

The respondents said that using internet in the library had a positive effect on their social life (facilitated communication with relatives among older respondents) and helped them acquire knowledge and skills that can be applied in professional or academic activities. 8 percent of the respondents reported that the opportunity to use the library internet helped them find a job. This means that the library helped at least 373 people to integrate or remain in the labour market.

For more interesting facts, data and opinions about Lithuanian library users and their attitudes to libraries, click this link.

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