Library survey results offer few surprises
by Steve Jusseaume, Hampton Union, July 1, 2003
HAMPTON - Survey says!
A Lane Library-sponsored mail survey initiated earlier this year has been completed, the results have been tabulated and library trustees are excited with what they have found.
"We are very pleased with the results; we have gathered some good information, information that will be useful in what we are planning for the library," said library trustee Chairwoman Lenore Patton this week.
A total of 600 surveys were mailed out at random in March to taxpayers in Hampton, asking them what the library needs, what the current facility lacks and what direction renovations should take.
The results - 151 forms were returned, a 20 percent return rate - indicate that 90 percent of the respondents found the staff helpful and courteous, 56 percent said that libraries provide important services and should be supported with the resources they need and 40 percent felt that libraries should "keep up with the times" with services such as the Internet.
Patton noted that she and the staff were surprised that only 4 percent of the surveys said libraries are a luxury in times of tight budgets and should be the first areas to economize.
"That means we’re doing our jobs, that people feel we’re an essential part of the community," Patton said.
The nine-page survey sought input on the physical building; on what a library should be; what direction the library should take on resources, including computers and the Internet; and on library services, staff and customer information.
Patton said the trustees found few surprises in the results, that most people agreed with the staff on areas that need improvement, including lack of adequate parking, the inadequacy of the handicap-accessible entrance, and the inconvenience of the bathrooms.
"There were no surprises at our weaknesses, especially parking and handicap access," Patton said.
Other areas of improvement identified by library staff and the trustees at Lane include lighting, which Patton said was installed in one direction in the building while book shelves were installed in a different direction, blocking lighting in some areas.
In addition, some people have expressed a desire that the original, front entrance to the building be reopened.
The survey included questions on library resources, which include children’s books, adult programs, genealogy, videos, DVDs and CDs, inter-library loans, outreach to local schools and book delivery to shut-ins.
Patton noted that Lane Library offered discounted passes to the Boston Museum of Science, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Currier Gallery of Art, Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, the New Hampshire Museum of Art and the Portland Museum of Art, among other museums and galleries throughout New England.
"We got some really useful information on the museum pass program, where people go, what museums and places they most use passes at," Patton said, noting that future pass programs will be tailored by the responses received.
One service Patton noted the library offers but few people know about is that books can be delivered to the elderly and those who cannot get to the facility.
"Not many people know that we deliver books to shut-ins. Some of the trustees didn’t even know that," Patton reported.
Meanwhile, fund-raising efforts continue. The trustees expect to meet with an architect this month and develop a renovation plan.
"We haven’t decided whether to come forward with a warrant article this year or next, but when we do, it will be well documented. We don’t want to interfere with other worthwhile projects in Hampton, but we are going to need some upgrades soon," Patton said.
She was quick to note that, while the eventual price tag for the renovations might reach near $1 million, fund-raising efforts are expected to pay for some of the cost.