The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 15, 2013

Library survey: Service good, eBooks less so

MANKATO — A survey about Blue Earth County’s library system has shown general satisfaction with customer service but some concerns with the library’s collection of movies, audio books and eBooks.

The County Board heard a presentation on the survey results Tuesday from Minnesota State University professor Bill Wagner, who administered it at no charge.

More than 75 percent of the 211 respondents said they “agree” or “strongly” agree that library staff treated them respectfully and were helpful.

Library Director Tim Hayes said he was most proud of these findings.

“It also gives us an opportunity to build on an asset,” he said. “It’s a good starting place.”

Hayes said he was most concerned about the responses on the condition of the library building, though he expected that the 30-year-old building would not be the most popular aspect of the library.

The restrooms were the least popular feature of the building. About 43 percent of respondents were either “somewhat satisfied” or “not satisfied” with the restrooms.

The bathrooms are slated to be renovated this year.

The library’s selection of eBooks was the subject of the most dissatisfaction — only 10.3 percent were “very satisfied” while 32.1 percent were “not satisfied.”

But Hayes said publishers set up obstacles to libraries buying eBooks. What costs $5 or $10 at the bookstore can cost $50 to $80 for the library, he said.

Also, eBooks currently only account for 2.5 percent of the library’s circulation.

“So it’s not like 50 percent of our circulation is eBooks,” Hayes told the board.

The satisfaction for the books was about double that of eBooks, but the selection of DVDs and audio books was a relatively minor weakness.

The survey also showed higher satisfaction with children’s programs over events for adults — 81 percent were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with children’s programming compared with 56 percent for adult events.

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