Assignment 2: Identification of the PL Users
The library used for this assignment is the Knox County Public Library. This project will be evaluating the main branch, Lawson Mcghee, which is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. It will evaluate the reference service.
2.1 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.
Three segments of the community that are likely to be interacting with the public library include the elderly, teenagers, and low-income adults.
Primary:Low-income adults are probably the most likely to be interacting with the public library. This demographic can include the homeless, the unemployed, and people without expendable income. The library is an excellent service for people who can't afford computers or Internet access at home. Low-income adults, particularly the homeless or unemployed, probably use the library on a daily basis. The reference service would be particularly useful to this demographic, because people could utilize the services they offer to find employment. At the Knox County Library in 2014, half of the items circulated were adult items (J. Drumheller, personal communication, February 5, 2015). This indicates that adults are the primary library users. 14.6 percent of the total Knox County population (432,226) earns under the poverty level (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). If just ten percent of this population uses the library's services, that is an estimated 6,300 users in this demographic in Knox County.
Secondary: The elderly (age 65 and over) are probably the second-most likely to be interacting with public library services. Elderly patrons may take classes that the library provides, such as introductory computer classes. Older patrons are also more likely to use items that are made for the disabled, such as large-print items or audiobooks. The library also offers delivery services for users that are home bound (Knox County Public Library, 2014c). This is a service likely to be used by patrons in this demographic. The elderly are probably likely to use the library at least once a week, if not more, as people in this age group are eligible for retirement. In Knox County, 14.1 percent of the population is aged 65 or older (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). If ten percent of this demographic uses the library's services, it contributes an estimated 6000 users to the library.
Tertiary: Teenagers are the third most likely to use the public library services. Teenagers are most likely to use the circulation services. Teenagers may enjoy reading, but don't have income to purchase books. Additionally, teens may need to do research for school projects and require materials or reference tools that their school library does not provide. Teenagers may also need to use the library's computers or Internet in order to complete college or job applications. Teenagers are probably only likely to use the library once every two weeks, as many have school and extracurricular activities. According to the 2010 census, 6.8 percent of the total population of Knox County was between the ages of 15-19 (The United States Census Bureau, 2014). If ten percent of this population uses the library, that contributes an estimated 2,900 users to the library.
2.2 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.
The primary contact person at the Lawson Mcghee Library that knows about the reference service and the people likely to be interested in the library is Janet Drumheller. She is the reference services manager. Therefore, she is knowledgeable about the reference service, as well as in contact with many public library users. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A user of the Knox County Library is Terry Jones. He is a citizen of Knox County. He does not enjoy re-reading books, and uses the library's services rather than purchasing reading materials. His email address is email@example.com. Finally, another user of the public library is Carole Mullins. She is elderly and does not have expendable income. Therefore, she uses the library in order to access the Internet, check out books, and have increased social interaction. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2.3 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?
As reported by the 2010 Census, Knox County had a population of 432,226 (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). Based on that number, the population estimate for Knox County for 2013 is 444,622. 83.3 percent of this population is white, 9.1 percent is black, 3.7 percent is Hispanic, and 2.1 percent is Asian. This demographic information can impact the public library's services, because while they need to have services that are appropriate for all races, they may not have many Hispanic or Asian resources, because that portion of the population is very small. However, the fact that population sizes for other cultures are so small opens up cultural opportunities for the library. The library could host informational events informing the population about other cultures. Knoxville also hosts an event called the Hola Festival every September (Hola Knoxville, 2015). This could be an opportunity for the library to interact with the community.
51.4 percent of the population is female (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). This is almost an even split, so it wouldn't have a large impact on library services. They should offer services that would appeal to both genders. Only 5.9 percent of the population was under 5 years of age in 2013. However, 21.5 percent of the population was under 18 years of age (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). This is a major portion of the population, and indicates that the library should have a well-developed youth services department. Additionally, 14.1 percent of the population was over 65 years of age (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). This indicates that the library should offer services to people who may be suffering from hearing or vision loss due to old age. The library should also offer services for adults 18-65, which makes up the remaining population.
The median income per household in Knox County for 2013 was 47,694. However, 14.6 percent of the population is living below the poverty rate (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). This means that a large percentage of the population does not have expendable income. Therefore, the library should offer services that offer entertainment for people who may not otherwise be able to afford it. Examples of this could include movie nights or book clubs. They should also offer children's activities, because those living below the poverty level may not be able to afford books or entertainment for children.
As of 2002, 62 percent of people in Knox County were affiliated with a religious congregation. Of these 62 percent, 51 percent were Southern Baptist. 14 percent were United Methodists, 6 percent were Catholics, while the other 21 percent were made up of other religions, such as Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, and non-denominational Christians (City-data.com, 2011). Although this data is older, it shows that a majority of the population is religious, particularly Christian. For that reason, the library should offer services and materials that appeal to Christians.
Education levels in Knox County differ by age group. For people between the ages of 18 and 24, 51.1 percent have obtained some college or an associate's degree. In this same age group, 25.7 percent have a high school education, while 12.2 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher. Only 10.9 percent have less than a high school diploma (The United States Census Bureau, 2014). The population that is aged 25 and over has more varied education results. In this group, 26.1 percent of the population has graduated from high school. 20.9 percent has obtained some college education, 8.8 percent have an associate's degree, 21.5 percent have a bachelor's degree, and 12.9 percent have a master's or PhD. Around ten percent of the population has not graduated from high school (The United States Census Bureau, 2014). These statistics show that the majority of the population is educated. However, about ten percent of the population has not obtained a high school diploma. That can lead the library to purchase books giving advice or study tips for adults wanting to earn their GED. The education levels can also influence the level of difficulty librarians look for when purchasing books. The American Community Survey estimates that in 2013, approximately 210,000 people over the age of 16 in Knox County were employed. Of these, about 83,000 were employed in management, business, science and arts occupations. 25,000 were employed in education related jobs, 34,000 were employed in service occupations, and 57,000 in sales related jobs. The remainder of the population was employed in farm or construction related occupations (The United States Census Bureau, 2014). The fact that the majority of the employed population was employed in business and science related fields might have an impact on the types of materials the library buys both in reference and for the general circulation. The library may also hold business classes to help people network or build their resumes.
Knox County has a varied community. In the zip code containing Lawson Mcghee Public Library, there are mostly families without children. Most of these families are middle class. According to Nielsen, these families are likely to shop at Target, drive Kias, and listen to self-improvement audio books. Additionally, for the families with higher income in the same area, people are more likely to gamble, drive BMWs, and watch The Simpsons (Nielsen, 2014). These statistics can influence the types of materials libraries purchase. For example, knowing that people in this area are more likely to use self-help materials may lead the library to purchase more materials of this nature.
Knox County also has varied civic clubs, organizations, interests, and problems. There are eleven historical groups, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. There are 13 Nature and Outdoors clubs, 20 clubs and organizations for children and youth, as well as a myriad of other organizations for religion, sports and health, performing arts, and the community as a whole (Knoxville, Tennesee, 2014). These clubs and organizations are important for the library to be familiar with, because they may use library services to help inform their group members.
2.4 Provide a "SWOT" analysis of the community/users in terms of how they shape the nature of services in the PL?
Strengths: Strengths of the community for shaping the public library are the varied interests in the community. This is illustrated by the incredibly large number of clubs and interest groups available in the community (Knoxville, Tennessee, 2014). These various interests in the community can lead to a more varied collection at the public library, which can enrich the lives of the community members.
Weaknesses: A weakness of the community is that it isn't very culturally varied. The majority of the population identifies as white (The United States Census Bureau, 2015). This means that the library may not offer many resources about or for other cultural groups. This could negatively impact the less represented groups in the community such as Asians or Hispanics.
Opportunities:A big opportunity for the public library is offering services for the teenage population. Teens are a major demographic of the population that uses the library, but there are hardly any services offered for them (Knox County Public Library, 2014b). For example, the library could start a teen book club, hold fun interactive activities, or hold classes providing teens with knowledgeable skills that could help with college or job applications. Teens are a large portion of the population that represent future library users. Helping to improve the lives of teens could help improve the entire community.
Threats:The library's budget may make it impossible for some changes to be implemented. For example, teen programming would be a huge improvement to the services the library currently offers. Unfortunately, the budget may not have room for these changes. The budget can also restrict the types of materials the library provides. For example, if the community begins to draw in a larger art interest, but the library does not have a budget for pricey art books, the library's users may become unsatisfied.
2.5 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.
The Knox County library measures success through use statistics (J. Drumheller, personal communication, February 5, 2015). These use statistics including the total number of circulated items, circulated items in each department, website visits, and door counts. The library's mission is "to serve all residents as an educational, informational, recreational and cultural center through a wide variety of resources, services and programs" (Knox County Public Library, 2014). The library is successful in parts of its mission because they provide services to all ages of people (J. Drumheller, personal communication, February 5, 2015). They also are successful as an educational and informational center by recording the amount of usage their computers get, which in 2013 was 342,771 (J. Drumheller, personal communication, February 5, 2015). This indicates that people are using the reference area. However, without patron surveys, it is difficult to know exactly what the patrons are using the library computers and resources for. The library does not conduct user surveys regularly, although that might give a better idea of who uses the library and for what purposes.
2.6 How might user-centered assessment/evaluation from its users help the PL organization be more successful in regard to specific services?
User-centered assessment could help the public library provide more successful services because knowing the population can lead to user satisfaction. Surveys are excellent sources of user information and expectations, although they can be costly and time consuming (Matthews, 2007, p. 110). However, if a community is primarily Spanish speaking, but the library does not employ any Spanish-speaking librarians, the patrons may not be satisfied with the library. This could impact many services, particularly those with a great deal of patron interaction, such as reference. Similarly, if a community has a large number of sight-impaired patrons, but the library does not have any audio books in the collection, users will not be satisfied. A survey would show the library these trends in the community and allow them to adjust the services and materials that they offer in a way that will increase user satisfaction.
City-data.com. (2011). Religions in Knox County, Tennessee. Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Knox-County-TN.html.
Hola Knoxville. (2015). Hola home page. Retrieved from http://holafestival.org/hola/2015/1/25/hola-horal-latina-announced-2015-hola-festival.
Knox County Public Library. (2014). About. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/about.
Knox County Public Library. (2014). Calendar & programs. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/calendar-programs.
Knox County Public Library (2014). Homebound and disability services. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/about/services/homebound-and-disability-services.
Knoxville, Tennesee. (2014). Organizations & associations. Retrieved from http://www.knoxvilletennessee.com/orgs.html.
Matthews, J. R. (2007). Outcomes or benefits of a public library. In The Evaluation and Measurement of Library Services (107-113). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Nielsen. (2014). PRIZM zip code look-up. Retrieved from http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp?ID=20#.
The United States Census Bureau. (2014). Community facts- Knox County, Tennessee. Retrieved from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml.
The United States Census Bureau. (2015). Knox County QuickFacts. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/47093.html.
Contact K.C. Williams451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341