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INSC 554: Public Library Management and Services

2. Identification of the PL Users (10% of the total grade)

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. 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.

The first primary segment is children and their supporting parents. According to the 2014-2015 Budget Report, about 53,179 children that are 5 to 14 years old make up 12.0% of the total population of Knox County. The Knox County Public Library (KCPL) provides a variety of services and programs for children who fall into that age range, such as Preschool Storytime at nearly all branch libraries, Chess for Kids, Children's Festival of Reading, and Family Movie Nights.

According to KCPL's 2013-2014 annual report, there are 23,703 juvenile cardholders in total. Within the timeframe, about 832,093 juvenile materials have been circulated (2013-2014 Annual Report). And that means a children's book or audiovisual item is checked out every 38 second. Besides, the report records 76,640 patrons attended 2,400 children's programs.

The secondary user group is adults who intensively use KCPL's circulation services. According to the statistics provided by reference service manager of Lawson McGhee main library, in 2014, approximately 42% circulated items in KCPL system are for adult use. There are 115,939 adult cardholders in the KCPL system.

The tertiary user group is people who are heavy users of digital services. They use the digital systems to access e-media collections, resources including downloadable materials, streaming music, library podcasts, local history archives, online reference materials, databases and more.

Upon review of the user statistics of year 2013 and 2014, it is concluded that adults are the primary group for reference services. The second and tertiary user groups are Children and people who did reference interview for sights and sound items. In the last fiscal year, 99,181 adult reference services were performed, 11,045 children’s services are referenced, and 10,325 sights and sounds services referenced.

The local history and genealogy service is mainly provided in East Tennessee History Center. The user statistics indicate that about 39,016 per capital have been served at the Center in 2014. The primary user group is researchers who are interested in doing research on local history, antiques, manuscript, history photographs, etc. The secondary group is local or out-of-state citizens who tracks down family histories or files on civil wars. The tertiary group is random visitors who are curious about local history and archives. They are not frequent users of history center. After one or two visits, they may not come back for another visit.

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 first contact person is Janet Drumheller, the Reference Service Manager of the Lawson McGhee library. She is familiar with the library settings and services. Besides, she has worked with students on user-centered service research before. The contact persons who represent users or potential users of the PL are John Smith and , Emily Doran who are both part-time workers in the main library KCPL.

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?

Knox County has seen an increase in the per capita personal income from 2010 to 2012 (Burchett, 2013, p.264). Although it may seem reasonable that when household incomes increases, people are more likely to spend their leisure time in readings and attending programs. But Matthews (2007) suggested that there are more users in middle-income families than in low-income families. One of the explanations is that the poor families are more likely to have poor reading skills (Matthews, 2007). However, household income is not the only factor that plays effect on library usage.

A large number of user studies have been conducted to discuss the predictive factors of library use, including: education, age, number of small children, family income, sex, marital status, ethnicity (Matthews, 2007).

Below is a sex and age distribution chart of 2013 Knox County. Children aged from 5 to 14 takes up 12.0% of total population; Kids less than 5 years old takes up 5.9%.

Research studies have indicated that adults with children are more likely to visit public libraries (Lynch, 1997). They either take children to the library for storytime, or for checking out books in children's collection or attend other appropriate fun programs for children. In recognition of the fact that children are a large potential user group, KCPL developed a variety of programs and services for children. Almost all the branch libraries provide storytime for parents who want to take their children to the library for reading. In comparison, some other services are only provided in main library, such as computer workshop. This resource allocation is probably based on the Law of Least Effort in information science area. People tend to choose information sources that’s provided with easiness and convenience in regardless of the quality lose. If only the main library provides storytime service, then it is very likely that parents who live 20-minute drive away from downtown would not come for the service. Hence, it is considerate and sensible to make sure those branch libraries also provide similar services.

Apparently, in Knox County, females outnumber males; the number difference is not big though. Women are more likely to use libraries than men, but the phenomena will disappear when considering other predictive factors of usage such as employment status and education level (Matthews, 2007). So it's unreliable to conclude that the gender distribution has any impact on library services.

Knox County's budget report indicates that among non-agricultural employment, trade, transportation and utilities industry has the highest employment number. Arranging from high to low, the rest ranking is professional and business services, government, goods producing, educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, financial activities, other services, and information. However, it's hard to predict what reading materials or services the customers need most purely according to their occupation information. For example, an individual who works in financial industry may also like to read fiction books as much as the person who is involved in hospitality activities.

As a geographic center of East Tennessee, the Knox County has witnessed lots of historical events. The location along vital railroad lines made the county a hub for both sides of the Civil War conflicts (Wikipedia, 2015). Besides, valleys and mountains located nearby Knox County have attracted lots of artists, hikers, and travellers to come for a visit. These stories are the memory treasure of Knox County. KCPL now has East McClung Historical Collection and Knox County Archive to serve people who would like to track down family histories or interested in local events.

2.4 Provide a "SWOT" analysis of the community/users in terms of how they shape the nature of services in the PL?

After a careful study of KCPL's contextual setting and demographic analysis of its users, a "SWOT" analysis is developed as follows:

Strengths: KCPL has very large and diverse print and e-collection resources for its users. It meets users' need for electronic resources in a digital age. Also, KCPL has designed a variety of services and programs targeted for children in main library and branch libraries. Besides, The history center and archive collection preserve local history and allows local residents to look for genealogy information and family history. KCPL has developed a relatively complete library system to serve people across the greater Knox area.

Weaknesses: First, there are lots of popular programs for children, but comparably adult programs have much less attendance. Second, branch libraries have limited resources and programs, which makes them easy to lose users. Opportunities: Having a state university in town allows KCPL to recruit staffs with high educational levels, and thus providing quality services to users. Also, KCPL is looking forward to facilities upgrades during recent years, including technology improvements, which will help enhance KCPL's service diversity (Burchett, 2013, p.249).

Threats: The role of a public library in a community is ever changing, especially in a digital age. KCPL should re-identify library products that could be provided to its users to ensure their emerging needs are satisfied. In a digital age, the way that knowledge is presented and the channel through which information could be accessed have evolved. Libraries are undergoing a transitional stage. In order to keep attracting its current users and appeal to potential users, KCPL is under a lot of pressure.

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.

Although there is no clear statement about the measurement of success for KCPL (Through personal communication with Janet Drumheller, February 6), it's still possible to make success analysis based on library statistics.

In terms of KCPL's history and size of collections, KCPL existed since 1886 and now offers "more than one million books, periodicals, compact discs, films, audiobooks and downloadables through 19 locations across Knox County including one of the premier historical and genealogical collections in the Southeast" (Knox County Public Library, n.d.).

The children's festival of reading, which started out in 2005, has now transformed into a world-class festival with award-winning authors, illustrators and storytellers (2014 Annual Report). For teen collection, there are 28% more enrollees and 25% more finishers in 2014 than 2013. These numbers has shown that KCPL's children's services and programs have gained success in the last years.

In the aspect of computer and digital services, KCPL has embraced its 15th year of computer workshops for beginners and advanced users. To bridge the gap in digital age, KCPL also subscribed more than 80 databases and provides downloading services for magazines, books, audios, etc.

According to the annual report, KCPL’s staff fielded over 321,148 reference questions in the last year and that's 880 questions every day (KCPL, 2014 Annual Report). Financial information shows that KCPL spent $12,080,714 in the last fiscal year and received $12,292,182 during the same period (KCPL, 2014 Annual Report). And "for every $1 invested in KCPL, patrons receive a $4.78 return" (KCPL, 2014 Annual Report, p.29). In general, KCPL has a developed serving system across the greater Knox Area. It tries to follow the library trends in a digital age to better serve its users. However, attendance of adult programs is not as satisfying as children's. KCPL needs to figure out more appealing adult programs and workshops in order to accomplish its mission of being "an educational, informational, recreational and cultural center" (KCPL, n.d.) for Knox County.

2.6 How might user-centered assessment/evaluation from its users help the PL organization be more successful in regard to a specific service(s)?

User-centered assessments would allow KCPL receive feedbacks on its provided services, which will help evaluate and enhance qualities of staff's services. Also user evaluation forms may include suggestions or desires of new services. Based on these evaluations, KCPL would be able to adjust current programs, as well as implement new services for its users. In general, user-centered assessment allows KCPL to know more about its users and develop its library products according to users needs, avoiding unnecessary money waste in services that users don't like. More importantly, evaluations from users help the library director to come up with a more reliable marketing plan so that the library could accomplish more success in the future.


Lynch, M. (1997). Using public libraries: What makes a difference? American Libraries, 28(10), 64-65.

Knox County Public Library. (2014). 2014 Annual Report. Retrieved from

Knox County, Tennessee. (2015). Retrieved from,_Tennessee

Knox County Public Library. (N.D.). Retrieved from Burchett, T. (2013). 2014-2015 Adopted Budget Detail. Retrieved from

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341