Hayes said adults have many other ways to spend their time, and there’s more of an opportunity in the marketplace for children’s events. Also, programming for adults tends to start out with strong attendance, but it tends to decline over time, he said.
All of the surveys were filled out by people who chose to do so, rather than being selected at random. This is generally considered a statistical weakness because the survey is a reflection of the sort of people who choose to fill out surveys. In this case, Wagner suggested that they might be people who are either unusually happy or angry with the library.
The survey respondents are likely older than the typical library user, too — only 18.1 percent were younger than 35, though young families are one of the library’s two biggest constituencies (along with seniors).
But the lack of a random survey may not be that significant, Wagner said. In a separate survey completed by MSU for the city of Mankato and Mankato Area Public Schools, the results for the random sample were not all that different from the sample of people who sought out the survey.
And while older people are stereotypically more curmudgeonly and negative than younger generations, the opposite was true here. The youngest respondents were the least satisfied with the library’s customer service.
Only half of the respondents younger than 25 either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” they were treated respectfully, a number that rose with age, all the way to 90 percent for users above 65. However — and this is an important “but” — the sample size for the youngest users was too small to draw valid conclusions from. Only seven people under 25 filled out the survey.
There was another odd correlation, this time with education; generally, satisfaction with customer service rose with educational level. About 83 percent of the college graduates either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they were treated respectfully by staff.