February 16, 2018

Latest Patron Profiles

I hope you subscribe to Patron Profiles, an important effort by Library Journal designed to understand the behaviors and preferences of U.S. library users. The latest issue is now out, and focuses on “Library Websites and Virtual Services.”

In conjunction with Bowker, LJ surveyed U.S. library users to understand preferences around websites — who uses them and how and why. The study identified the “ePower Patron,” those people who are on your website all the time, either searching/reserving books or doing research.

No surprise: most everyone uses the websites to reserve a book. But interestingly, more and more are using devices other than a PC to access those site, urging the case for a mobile app and/or mobile friendly website.

Your Takeway: what is your plan for a mobile app/mobile friendly? If you don’t have a plan, call me. I’ll hook you up with someone who can help you get started.

Importantly, survey respondents universally said that information is not easy to find. Amen, sister! As libraries, we have traditionally organized our holdings in ways that make sense to us and then we expect the public to learn it. I remember a previous director at my library who proudly said, “we’ve trained our public very well!” But guess what? The world has changed dramatically, and the public brings to their library experience the expectations of the same ease-of-use they experience with Amazon, Target, and so on. Libraries have to wholesale rethink how we organize our information if we are going to be relevant in the future. (Don’t get me started on the term “research databases”!)

Your Takeway: rethink the customer experience from the public point of view, not from what you already know about your library.

eReaders and Tablets are changing the nature of our work. And if this isn’t keeping  you up at night, then call me at 2 a.m. and I’ll explain why it should! Here’s from Patron Profiles:

“When it comes to consuming electronic media content, the new mobile devices are gaining popularity even more rapidly than they are for information access. They account for over half of digital media consumption among survey respondents.”

Your Takeway: Your key staff and board of trustees should schedule a day retreat to map out a strategy to respond to the sonic-speed pace of change around eReaders. We have to face this head on, and not be complacent. Libraries had no competition for most of our history. In the last five years transformative competition has taken over and we’re still focused on very traditional library patterns of fines, circulation, using staff to check out materials for patrons.

Ok, now I step down off my soapbox and finish reading the latest issue of Patron Profiles…..

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.



  1. My library doesn’t subscribe – is there any way to read Patron Profiles’ [latest] articles?