Part 2: Identification of the PL Users
Abstract: This project will focus on the Nashville Public Library system (NPL) in the Nashville-Davidson County area, serving around 650,000 residents of which 330,000 have library cards. The project will analyze and assess the Studio NPL service of the library system, which functions as a teen center. The overall project will focus on the number and quality of services provided by Studio NPL as a part of the NPL system. This second section will analyze the users of the Nashville Public Library system and their impact on the decision making process.
2. Identification of the PL Users (10 Points)
1 Being specific, identify three segments of the user community interacting or likely to be interacting with the PL and its services. Rank and label these segments as primary, secondary, and tertiary according to the intensity of use as well as the number of actual and potential users. If possible, do this separately for various services that the PL offers. To do this you must estimate the number of likely users in each segment for each service.
An overwhelming majority of the overall community segment are adults who use the library for the functions of lifelong reading and attendance of community events. This would be the largest segment of users, encompassing two thirds of the active and potential patron usage of 440,000 persons in the county (Census Quickfacts, 2014). The difficulty in understanding this large group of patrons is being able to divide the scope of the adult group based on their interests. K. Collins, a Circulation Supervisor, highlights the differences for various income groups: For example, lower income patrons will be the primary users of the computer services in order to look for employment and update their resumes. By contrast, medium and higher income patrons will use the library for reading materials and extended life long learning goals which may include attending events or book clubs (K. Collins, personal communication, February, 3, 2015). The adult population is also the greatest pull of the next generation of patrons by bringing their children into the library. The wide diversity of the ways in which the adult population interacts with the library system ensures that their status as the primary users gives the largest amount of attention.
Due to the partnership with the Metro Nashville Schools, teens and school age children form a secondary usership because of their ability to obtain materials from not just their schools library but also from items in the Nashville Public Library system. These items are brought to their school to be picked up rather than having the students come to the library, allowing the further circulation of certain materials. This coordination goes to the extent of their school identification cards functioning as a library card while they are students attending school. Based off of the demographic information obtained by census information, 21.6 percent of the population being under the age of eighteen brings almost 140,000 active and potential users around the county (Census Quickfacts, 2014).
A smaller, but important segment of users of the system are those who are seniors who often read a larger part of our collection and use it often. This segment of patrons stays primarily on the print side of materials, however more of the population is moving towards ebook formats and audio books for their convenience. Although not exclusively for seniors, they are the primary users of the "Talking Library" service, which broadcasts the newspaper, magazines, books, and other prerecorded information over the radio, run almost entirely by volunteers. Based on the demographic information of 10.9 percent being over the age of sixty-five, there are nearly seventy thousand active and potential users under this category (Census Quickfacts, 2014).
2 Identify at least one contact person (more is better) in the PL who is knowledgeable about both your library setting and those people likely to be interested in the PL. Identify at least two (more is better) contact persons who represent users or potential users of the PL.
Inside the Nashville Public Library system, Niq Tognoni is the coordinator of the Studio NPL, a teen services area, who is providing guidance through this project with both internal information as well as specific information about his department. His information is intended to see the newest area of growth of the system as Studio NPL has garnered more attention as it expands across the system as a teen-centered area. His feedback on the workings of this project will allow an effective staff method of assessment as well as the best method to proceed further along with the project.
One current user and one potential user are being used to provide an example about the current and potential services that are involved in the library. These users are indented to describe the average active user and potential users that Nashville Public Library seeks to expand to. The active user, A. Marie, is a retiree seeking to fill her time with reading a large amount of materials. The potential user, B. Andrew, is under 25 and in a computing field who can be seen as a goal for outreach in the future. As this project develops and centers around a particular service, the active and potential users will be adapted to fit the scope of the project as well as see how the users respond to questions about the service areas. If possible, the project will entail connecting with users of the NPL system that fit the target project goal when finalized.
3 Provide a demographic analysis of the PL users and community in terms of: educational level, household income, racial/ethnic make-up, occupation, age levels and groups, gender, community habits, cultural opportunities, civic interests and problems, religious institutions, clubs and organizations, etc. How does each of these variables impact the PL and its services?
Demographics: Biological Background
Davidson County is more of a diverse background than the rest of the state of Tennessee, with almost 35 percent of the population being non-white, compared with the average around the state being 80 percent white. The population of 658,000 in the county can be broken down as 65.8 percent White, 28.1 percent African American, 9.9 percent Hispanic, 3.2 percent Asian, 2.3 percent describing themselves as Mixed, half a percent as Native American, and one tenth of one percent as Pacific Islander (Census Quickfacts, 2014). The statistics also show that 11.7 percent of the county was born in a foreign country (Census Quickfacts, 2014). The genders in the county are balanced, a slight edge to the females at 51.7 percent (Census Quickfacts, 2014). Age wise, approximately seven percent of the residents of the county are under the age of five, 21.6 percent are under the age of eighteen, and 10.9 percent are Senior Citizens (Census Quickfacts, 2014).
Demographics: Social Background
With regards to education and employment, Davidson County is higher than average in both markers of economic progress and success. 86.4 percent of residents have at least a high school education, with 35.9 percent having completed a Bachelors or more advanced degree (Census Quickfacts, 2014). Most of the county serves as a business and service industry, accounting for more than sixty percent of the workforce (Census Quickfacts, 2014). The latest statistics show that 8.8% of the population is unemployed, and 30.9% out of the labor force entirely (Census Quickfacts, 2014). Notably, 18.5% of the population is designated as under the poverty level, but the median income of the county is $47,335 (Census Quickfacts, 2014). Davidson County is one of the most liberal districts as a voting bloc in the state of Tennessee, voting for President Obama by a margin of 59/40 in the last election. In terms of religious affiliation, 82% consider themselves religious, with the Baptist denomination being 32% of the total (City Data, 2014). There are however affiliations with almost all major religions and locations for each of them.
Nashville is the capital of the state of Tennessee, therefore there is already a cultural influence in the region. However there is the added benefit of having multiple significant factors adding to the influence in the region and nationally. Nashville is a major city in the country music world, attracting a large amount of visitors as well as aspiring musicians to the city to live and work. Nashville also hosts events from sports, art, music, and theatrical worlds by which Nashville has begun to host major events such as the Women's Basketball Final Four and the Country Music Awards. Further, Nashville has a specific symphonic center, multiple smaller concert venues, and a major park area that has held festivals in the past.
Nashville Public Library taps into this cultural aspect by hosting "Nashville Reads", which is sponsored by the Mayors office and allows a greater reach into the community (Nashville Reads, 2014). NPL also has brought in major authors through the "Salon@615" such as Jodi Picoult, Kristen Gillibrand, Jon Meacham, and numerous others (Salon@615, 2014). Even with the larger events that are brought into Nashville, NPL brings children's storytimes on diverse topics, hosts area groups such as housing authorities and allows NPL to bill itself as a community meeting place.
4 Provide a "SWOT" analysis of the community/users in terms of how they shape the nature of services in the PL?
There is a support system of citizens who are organized in not only branch "Friends of the Library" groups but also as an overall foundation. The patrons who are a mix of volunteers, staff, and interested citizens do unofficial outreach of the services that the library provides. The appeal of both the friends organizations as well as the foundation brings not only patrons into the library, but also donations that subset the budget, providing services such as mentoring or computer training that the library budget does not have the ability to subsist.
The collection of the system itself is aided by the fact that any material across the entire system can be culled to be brought to a particular patron, so the patrons are not limited by their home branch selections (L. Shepard, personal communication, January, 19, 2015). Further, patrons have the ability to possibly acquire the items through recommending the items for purchase or by an interlibrary loan system. The NPL system takes a large investment into bringing these services to the community to provide a wide diversity of availability of materials (L. Shepard, personal communication, January, 19, 2015).
One of the major patron complaints noted by librarians is not being open on Fridays at any of the community branches. This particular complaint is noted due to the opinion of patrons that the library should be available as much as is possible. Not being open on a day of the week is due to another weakness of the system: The lack of a consistent monetary flow. The budget projection for 2015-2016 shows that the library budget would be only 1.2% of a $1.9 Billion dollar budget for the Metro Nashville government (Metro Budget, 2015). This means that the amount of money that the library receives could fluctuate between the initial budget and what is actually acquired.
Another weakness comes from patrons not being aware of the many services that the library provides. There are limited distribution methods of information aside from the current social media footprint as well as a printed booklet called "Unbound" which lists all of the planned events over the next season, as it is released every three months. There are currently no expanded plans for the education of the general public about upcoming events unless the person is in the library facility.
A positive opportunity for Nashville Public Libraries comes from the already existing social media platforms that are currently being managed. A further outreach through a new social media strategy can bring in more traffic to the social media pages. For example, as of February 2015, the Nashville Public Library Facebook page has just over 8,000 likes and maintains a small footprint in terms of postings. Nashville Public Libraries at present has a social media footprint on five different websites: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, and Pinterest (NPL Website, 2015). NPL also has an RSS feed available for connections to events and news in the area.
Friends groups specifically outreach to potential users of the system as "ambassadors" of the library. Further emphasis on unofficial outreach in order to bring more people into the library system can activate the potential users and bring more into the active users category. At present there is a general goal of getting 70% of Davidson County to have a library card by the end of 2016 (L. Shepard,personal communication, January, 19, 2015). However there is no major strategy on how to get to this number. A major outreach strategy could assist Nashville in reaching the 70% target outlined by the Director.
The dependency on governmental support for a monetary flow provides the greatest danger for Nashville Public Library. Without the appropriate amount of funding, NPL cannot function as a full, effective force. The library is depending on the efforts of the board of directors as well as the director of the system to justify the spending as it would be for any government organization. Further emphasis on ensuring funding must go hand in hand with finding the best ways to keep up the numbers of patrons coming into the facility rather than purely online.
5 How does the PL measure success? How successful is the PL in its mission and in providing services to its user community? What works (and does not work) in providing services to various users? Please be specific.
In order to determine how Nashville Public Library measures success, there has to be a determination of what information is provided in order to come up with a potential solution. The data that NPL has available on its intranet only accounts for information that can be quantified without analysis or policy without hard numbers to compare what is a definition of success. Using both sets of information, the policy mixed with the statistics, allows for a window into whether or not there is an independent understanding of if the library is successful.
Nashville Public Library releases on their private intranet statistics regarding the usage of the library and the various numbers that show use and interest in the library system. The information provided goes into the number of checkouts, the type of material checked out, the reference questions that are noted, computer usage, and attendance of events from the previous year (Circulation Activity, 2014). When consulting these statistics, there is clear and definite growth in all categories in terms of overall numbers. What is different is that each branch has some shifts in their numbers, with some branches dropping significantly in terms of usage. What the numbers are buffeted by is a sixty-one percent increase in Downloadable materials usage (Circulation Activity, 2014).
6 How might user-centered assessment/evaluation from its users help the PL organization be more successful in regard to specific services?
Being able to garner feedback from Nashville Public Libraries current users provides an insight to the libraries function as an organization when it comes to understanding what works for the system and for the community. The current available level of public feedback on the website is only for errors that occur on the website rather than any sort of an online suggestion box. The Ask A Librarian function also exists on the website, however it only implies a suggestion of a title to purchase than to give true feedback (NPL Website). In person feedback also is lacking, there are no suggestion boxes or avenues of communication aside from patrons who might insist to see the manager or authority figure if there is something of note.
In order to better understand the user feedback, there have to be more overt avenues of information collection to make decisions on incorporating the user into the process of improving the library system. A systematic forum or public outreach would assist greatly in how the users wish to see the library improve or more reflect their needs. S. Morse, a branch manager at NPL, noted that when teen events were done that were specific events from the library, feedback in a paper form was solicited, but not always obtained (personal communication, February, 5, 2015). A more habitual culling of information from the users of the various aspects of the system be it events or general services has the potential to improve every segment of the library over time.
United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/47037.html
Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.city-data.com/city/Nashville-Davidson-Tennessee.html
Metro Nashville/Davidson County Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/Finance/docs/OMB/FY15/Final/FY15 Final Budget Book.pdf
Nashville Public Library. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.library.nashville.org/
Nashville Reads - A City-wide Read. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/nashvillereads/
Salon@615 | Bringing premier authors to Nashville. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/salonat615/
(2014). Circulation Activity. Presentation conducted from Nashville Public Library, Nashville.
Nashville Public Library. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.library.nashville.org/
Contact K.C. Williams451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341