Preliminary findings of report show preference for hard copy literature, in-person services, more events
Preliminary findings from a survey conducted by the Rappahannock County Public Library found that community members would like to see more room for meeting spaces, comfortable seating and children’s programs.
The Library Board of Trustees has been grappling with the decision either to expand the library’s current location or relocate to a new building. The survey was intended to gauge public opinion on what should be done with the library, and the survey ultimately found that respondents are satisfied with the library’s current location and structure.
The survey received 477 responses, and about 36 percent of those respondents were between the ages 65 and 74. Nearly 18 percent were over the age of 75, and only 1 percent were between the ages 18 and 24. Respondents were given the option to skip over questions, so not every question received the same number of responses.
The survey asked county residents for feedback on the library’s current service offerings and what renovations could be made to encourage people to visit the library more often. The library is looking to expand by more than 4,000 square feet. Gil Entzminger, a Richmond-based architectural consultant hired by the library, said the trustees were also considering adding a variety of meeting rooms to accommodate groups.
At its June 30 meeting, the Library Board of Trustees presented some early results. In response to a “check all that apply” question about what people currently use the library for, about 74 percent of respondents said they use the library to check out books for adults, about 39 percent said they use the library for meetings, about 30 percent said they check out movies and about 37 percent said they use the library for computer or internet use.
“A lot of people like the charm of the existing library and don’t want to see it commercialized,” Entzminger said at the public meeting.
Other notable preliminary findings include:
About half of respondents said they relied on the library’s broadband to connect to the internet, while half said they preferred their internet connection at home.
About 62 percent of respondents said they would prefer to use library services in person, whereas about 29 percent said they would prefer to use services online.
About 84 percent of respondents prefer reading print books, magazines, and/or periodicals rather than digital copies.
69 percent of respondents said they would like to see the RCPL host more lectures and presentations.
About 46 percent of respondents rated the library’s location as “excellent” and about 35 percent rated the location as “good.”
About 48 percent of respondents want to see more comfortable seating and more seating options.
Space for teens
The survey itself drew few responses from young people under the age of 18. Only four respondents identified themselves as between ages 11-17 and five respondents identified themselves in the 18-24 age group.
“If they move away, your county will decline,” Entzminger said of the small youth population in Rappahannock County.
Judy DeSarno, chair of the Library Board of Trustees, said the most compelling case to expand the library was made by teens in the stakeholder meetings prior to the survey. DeSarno met with eight teenagers who she said were incredibly articulate and provided a lot of insight on what that age group might want out of a library.
“I was really impressed by them,” DeSarno said of the teens. “What they really talked about is there is no place in this county for them. Their whole entertainment, if they want to go out and do something, is playing pool at the pub. What they really talked about is wanting a place to study together with groups.”
The library is hoping to create a space where teens can study together, socialize, and hold weekly game and movie nights. Some members of the board pointed out that there are few public meeting places in the county where teens can be with their friends outside of school.
Entzminger is still working on finalizing the survey results, which will culminate in a report that will be published on the library’s website.