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WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

What to Do When They Dont Love You Any More: Declining Usage at Public Libraries

Ashley Swan Stephanie Whitehead

Emporia State University

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Introduction
As technological advances happen more and more frequently, our society moves ever increasingly into a digital society. The average citizen is much more technologically savvy than even ten or fifteen years ago, with multiple electronic devices and many different ways of accessing the internet. As we move into this digital society, public libraries have suffered; losing patronage and trying to fend off ever looming budget cuts. In response to this threat, the Pew Research Center Pew Internet and American Life Project have decided to study how the role of public libraries is changing in the digital age and how library patrons' needs and expectations are shifting. ("Pew research center," 2011).

As technology becomes more of a fixture in the life of an American citizen, the less they want to have to search for information, and the more readily they expect it to be at their fingertips. The Net Generation is a perfect example of this, having grown up with direct access to computers and the Internet. This need for instant access doesnt mesh easily with an idea of going to a public library for information; why go somewhere for the information when it is all readily available online. However this assumption is false in so far that, very few substantive materials are on the Internet for free. For example, only about 8% of all journals are on the Web, and an even smaller fraction of books are there. (Herring, 2001). Regardless of whether the assumptions these users are making are correct, previous library patrons are ditching the library for easier access to information; In 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

internet usage. (Battishill, 2011). Because of the decrease in public library usage, budgets have tightened their belts on spending. These cuts are only becoming more commonplace; "According to a Harris/Reader's Digest Poll from late 2010, nearly 40 percent of American mayors plan to reduce hours, shed employees or make other cutbacks in the coming months, while many county libraries have already eliminated branches entirely. (Kavner, 2011).

In response to the dwindling number of patrons, and the budget cuts looming on the horizon, public libraries have not just sat down and prepared for eventual closure: they are fighting back. Librarians are professionals in their field, and as such they want to provide the best service possible to their patrons and their communities. So in response they are changing, and theyve adopted new strategies to bring patrons in to their buildings. Not only are they employing marketing strategies, but they are going out of their way to do so. There is marketing training for librarians and libraries, and they are using all strategies available to bring in users. In addition, public libraries are using Web 2.0 Tools to share information with their users in an effective way that appeals to Net Gen users. Furthermore, librarians are constantly searching for ways to be more effective and cutting edge in drawing in users and assisting them. There has been a huge increase in technology usage within public libraries, and ebook usage has jumped greatly.

Research Problem
The most visible change to librarianship in the past generations is maybe the simplest: librarians have left the building. Waiting behind the reference desk for patrons to approach is

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

old-fashioned. Passive is pass (Johnson, 2010). The role of the librarian has been rapidly changing over the last decade and will continue to evolve. In order to remain relevant as information experts to the public, they must find new ways to reach their users and draw in those who dont find significant value in a brick-and-mortar library.

The goal of this study is to investigate non-traditional methods that libraries are using to draw patrons into the physical library and market it as a tool. It is becoming more difficult to draw new patrons in and libraries have to come up with new, innovative ways to reach them. In the past decade, libraries have made a digital leap forward in order to keep up with public demand. Users want to be able to access the library catalog online and place holds on the books they want to borrow from home. They seek out book reviews through various social networks (whether it be Amazon.com reviews or even asking for recommendations to their friends on Facebook), rather than rely on professional reviews. They expect their library to make databases searchable from home, instead of being forced to use a computer in the libraries own network. These are just a few examples of the changing expectations of the public library by its users.

Budget cuts are also causing libraries to think of new methods to reach their patrons. In the past 3-4 years libraries have had to deal with drastic cutbacks to their funding. They have to make staffing and hours cuts, while increasing public support in innovative ways. Libraries also seek outside funding to help make up the difference in traditional funding support in order to keep up with the changing technology needs of the patrons. Several third party companies are sprouting up to sell technology options to libraries that they could not afford to have built on

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

their own. These companies also seek to create a more global library system by creating shared access via the libraries that use their technology.

This project will use qualitative research framework to investigate because it follows a research strategy of inductivist, constructionist and interpretivist features. A qualitative framework will provide the best set of data for this literature study because it will focus on how libraries have examined the behavior of their patrons and come up with solutions to change those behaviors (bring them into the library). An inductivist approach will explore the relationship between non-traditional methods to bring in patrons versus the research that will be provided to back up that claim. Many libraries are taking a constructionist approach to bringing in patrons by changing the culture of the library itself. They are working hard to make it known that the physical library is not just a repository for books any more. Its an evolving, useful, interactive, social place for people. Finally, an interpretivist approach is also necessary because hermeneutics reflect the clash between an emphasis on the explanation of human behavior versus the understanding of human behavior (Bryman, 2008).

The information we have gathered from the literature review will benefit LIS scholarship by presenting new findings for current and future librarians, and will also benefit LIS practice by giving them ideas that they can turn into practice in their own libraries.

Review of the Relevant Literature


Getting to know your non-users

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

As libraries struggle to bring people into their doors, they first need to identify why people are not utilizing their services. McCarthy (1994) states that librarians must be proactive in identifying their non-users. There are numerous reasons why people are not using the library. They may not know what service the library offers. The librarys hours may not work with their schedule. Librarians need to create surveys and questionnaires to gather feedback from the public. It will allow you to market your services better, knowing what potential users would like.

Strategic Planning for marketing library services

Adeyoyins (2005) conclusions build on McCarthys. a major marketing campaign is necessary to increase awareness and educate the library users about available resources. Since libraries are part of the service industry, it is very difficult to see the need for a marketing plan. When one hears the term marketing, one thinks of a product sold for profitnot a service. Library marketing plans must be concise, informed, and thoroughly researched before implementation. This approach must consider the 4 Ps: product, packaging, promotion, and place. Product refers to the services at the library. Packaging is the way in which users can access the product. Promotion is basically advertising. Place refers to locations and branches of the library.

Library and Marketing Class collaborate

Brock and Tabaei (2011) offer advice to library managers. The most important thing is to get feedback from customers and stay current on their changing needs. Libraries must

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

construct a vision that promotes the advantages of using the library, possibly using social media.

Marketing library services to the Net Generation

Mi & Nesta (2006) further expand on the idea of libraries and marketing. Libraries do need to look to how they communicate with their audience, especially now that their audience is being attracted to other services. Libraries are in direct competition with Google. They must do more than simply provide more electronic resources. The Net Generation are those people currently of college age who have never known life without computers. They want information quickly. They do not see the point of digging through the stacks when they can just type a few keywords into a search engine and gets thousands or millions of answers. Marketing is not simply promotion, it has to reflect a service improvement and it has to add value (Mi et al., 2006). Visual searching, games, multi-media tools, and creative use of library spaces will draw in the Net Generation and convince them that the library is more than just books. Christopher Harris deals with a new marketing technology to be used with Web 2.0 Tools such as Twitter; a concept known as "permission marketing", the privilege--not the right--of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them (2012). Another marketing tool libraries are using to market to the Net Generation is the Wowbrary. Once registered, users receive a weekly email that lists their libraries' newest books. Titles are organized by their Amazon rankings, and the top 20 are shown on the first screen (Hawkins, 2012). This allows subscribers to see popular books at their own public library, and uses this marketing online to bring these users into the physical library space.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Interest in Public Libraries Role in the Digital Age

Few institutions have been more challenged by the rise of the internet and mobile connectivity than the local library. Many libraries have responded with innovations and sweeping overhauls in the way they deliver on their missions (Pew Research Center). The Pew Research Center is undertaking in a 3-year, $1.4 million study on how the role of public libraries and patrons expectations and needs are shifting in the digital age.

They will be submitting national surveys, special surveys and focus groups to study how patrons use of the library is evolving and how it will best serve its community. This study also plans to make a special focus on current digitally-savvy patrons (eBook users, mobile users, etc.) habits and ways they use the library. As technologies advance, people in our communities increasingly rely on digital information to find opportunities to improve their lives. We must make sure public libraries, which are critical community technology hubs, keep pace with that change and give patrons access to the resources they need.

Paying Attention to Digital Patrons

Library Journal also reports that libraries need to focus on connecting with their digitalsavvy patrons. Digital patrons may be a minority, but they are more active users (and not just in digital services) than non-digital patrons. If eBook patrons' activities are representative of future demand for library services--including not only eBook consumption but also digital services and mobile applications--then it is vital to note their preference and plan accordingly. (Kelley 2012).

WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY DONT LOVE YOU ANY MORE: DECLINING USAGE AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

One example they list is of the Broward County Library in Florida. They experienced 1,800 downloads of the OverDrive WOW mobile app the first month they launched it. Kelley (2012) quotes Stephen Grubb, the librarys e-services manager, We were amazed that it happened that quickly. Those people made over 50,000 searches of the catalog in the first month. The people downloading the app frequently had not been library patrons previously or had not used the library for a long while.

Kelley (2012) also notes that libraries should pay close attention to these digital patronss in the future: The mobile device ownership and digital media behavior of the 21 -40 age group should inform libraries in planning their long-term mobile strategy. These patrons represent the future of the library in terms of new behaviors that are enabled by technology.

Library Journal notes the case of the Rockford, Illinois public library, and how they have had a discrepancy between e-book budget spending and the response from their community. Amidst a backlash at the spending of over a quarter of their budget on e-books, Board president Paul Logli assured the public that the library will continue to provide regular services, and he encouraged residents to attend more meetings and offer feedback to the library board ("Community questions ebook," 2012).

Budget Cuts

Libraries have to spend more and more of their budget on technology in order to keep up with advances, yet their funding continues to be slashed. The 37-branch Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system is experiencing this issue when dealing with austerity measures.

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While usage has increased and the sophistication of the technology has increased, and the demand for assistance from library staff has increased, libraries have had to cut back on staffing, hours of opening, collections and technology because their budgets have been radically cut (Sommer 2011).

Buffalo & Erie CPL system has found new ways to reach patrons while reducing its operational hours. Mobile devices and laptops can access their virtual library to download eBooks and movies (with a library card, of course). Patrons can also access a reference librarian 24/7, in part to a consortium of libraries from six counties, using askus247.com (which is a virtual reference service). They are offering more services to computer instruction and many people use the library to help with job searches. Sommer (2011) states one of the things that happens in a prolonged recession is how people turn to libraries for really essential services they need in their lives. The access to technology is really important, partly as more and more companies and governments require online applications.

They have also noticed that with their digital patrons, eBook users have increased significantly in the past two years. When the Nook lowered its price in early 2011, the library saw a huge increase in digital book downloads. In the first seven months of 2011, downloadable e-books at the library system saw a 617 percent increase in circulation from the same time period in 2010, helped by a big increase in e-book purchases. Downloadable audio books were up 50 percent (Sommer 2011).

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The KIDS Corner Library Branch in Brooklyn, NY is a tiny library the size of a doghouse that uses the honor system; its creation is a response to budget cuts and reduction of hours at the local public library. A sign on its door reads, "Welcome! This library is meant to encourage us all to publish and share information about local resources, issues, events, the many personal matters we care about deeply" (Dimitrov, 2011). Dimitrov notes that this isnt a replacement for the local library, but has relieved some stress for those that are no longer able to reach the local branch during regular business hours.

Building a Virtual Branch

The Vancouver Public Library is really a shining example of how libraries should think, act, react and reach out to their users in the digital age. They spent a year in 2008 doing an extensive redesign to their website (which they call their Virtual Branch) in order to enhance user experience. They continue to evaluate the site constantly in order to make enhancements and improvements. VPL is strongly committed to keeping the future evolution of content and overall direction of the site in the hands of the people who use it, which means ensuring that both patrons and staff have a strong voice when it comes to expressing their satisfaction levels with the library's web services (Cahill 2009).

One of their goals was to use Web 2.0 tools to engage their patrons to participate within the site and other social media outlets. They wanted to create an organic conversation with the users in order to disseminate information and have a back-and-forth dialogue. One of the VPL's core service development strategies is the belief that the library can only develop truly

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relevant services by going out into the community, building relationships with diverse community groups and allowing them to engage honestly and openly with the library about what they want and need from it. By extending the library's online presence beyond the boundaries of its own website, VPL has created an opportunity to take this community development model into the online space (Cahill 2009).

One of Cahills (2009) most important conclusions from this study of the Vancouver Public Library is that there is a definite cultural shift happening in libraries from traditional web content, to the addition of Web 2.0 tools to deliver library services. The Web 2.0 space - it is not just appropriate, but essential for libraries to remain flexible and responsive. Only by acknowledging and adopting this approach can libraries remain relevant to tech-savvy web users.

New Technology Options for Libraries

Many agree that public libraries are moving towards more digital usage, but there are many varieties to that path. Ojala, when reporting live from the Indiana Library Federation conference in 2011, wrote about futuristic library speaker, Thomas Frey, head of the DaVinci Institute. Although Frey took his audience part of the way there, he would have bette r served the Indiana librarians if he had revised his talk to reflect what libraries now offer and how they could align with a digital future. As he walks back into the future, Frey will be greeted by a phalanx of librarians who are already there, ready to welcome him (2012).

Mobile

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Hane (2011) states after some initial reluctance about even allowing cell phones to be used in libraries, librarians are now embracing mobile technologies as powerful information tools. Conference presentations, journal literature, and the blogosphere are now filled with reports of interesting applications: QR codes, SMS reference and notifications, mobile catalog interfaces, and mobile-enabled information resources.

Boopsie recently announced a new feature to its mobile app, BookCheck, which allows users to check out materials using their mobile phone. They can also access (in real-time) library catalog information as they would be able to on a computer. The app also provides information from third-party sources, such as book reviews, author bios and plot summaries.

SirsiDynix has created a mobile app, BookMyne, which allows the ability to push event notifications, links, reading lists, or Facebook and Twitter alerts, for libraries that use the SirsiDynix integrated library system (Rapp 2010).

EBSCO has free Android and iPhone/iPad EBSCOhost apps, which lets users access EBSCOhost content on their devices. The app can be used after the patron visits a library's EBSCOhost to receive an authentication key, the app's authentication is valid for nine months; the app also allows users to save articles, including full-text PDFs, for offline viewing (Rapp 2010).

Self-Service

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Darien Library, in Connecticut, has a new print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine (Rapp 2010). This EBM machine prints books on the spot. Both publishing companies and authors who want to self-publish can enter their catalog and users can select their books for printing right there from the machine.

Salt Lake County Library Services uses Comprise Technologies online payment service, which according to Rapp (2010) has freed up staff and generates one -third of the library's total fine collections.

Cloud Platforms

Rapp (2010) states that there is a need for a robust library platform to allow libraries to use and share their data in new ways. The OCLC WorldShare Platform is an Open -Source platform that is free for libraries to use to share web services and data and provides a platform infrastructure for developers to utilize in their local libraries. The more libraries talk to one another the closer it gets them to the ability to speak with a single voice (Rapp et al.). This will only provide more data to the user in the end because their library will have free access to data all over the world.

Rapp (2010) further elaborates The WorldShare Platform will allow outside app developers to create and share applications using OCLC web services and application programming interfaces (APIs) and will make data accessible in WorldCat, the WorldCat Registry, the WorldCat knowledge base, and WorldCat Identities, among others. Other APIs will allow access to circulation, authentication, acquisitions, and license management functions.

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Digitization

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, in Indianapolis, "aims to digitize rare archival material and make it more accessible to the general public via a digital display. Fans who come to the library on a pilgrimage will be rewarded with intimate knowledge and tourists who come out of curiosity will discover the depth of Vonnegut's character and his work" (Rapp 2010).

Research Questions
As we research the non-traditional methods libraries are using to bring patrons in to the library, these questions arose that we hope we have answered:

What new digital methods are libraries using to bring patrons to their physical space? What non-digital, non-traditional methods are libraries using to bring patrons to their physical space?

How are patrons needs changing in the digital age? How are patrons expectations changing in the digital age? How are budget cuts affecting changing services in the physical library? How are libraries reaching out to non-users to bring them into the library? How are libraries reaching out to current users to bring them into the library? What marketing techniques are being used to bring library patrons in? How is the physical library space changing to accommodate and draw in new-users?

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Assumptions of the Research


Our research study is qualitative in nature, so there are no hypotheses. However, we do have some assumptions in our research. The numbers for patronage at libraries have declined so we believe libraries are responding to this, and not simply accepting a fate of irrelevance or nonexistence. We also make the assumption that public libraries will find innovative ways to draw users into their physical buildings. As part of that innovation, we feel that technology will play a large role in public libraries, and will help attract the net gen generation to their space. We believe that in addition to and with the help of technology, public libraries will begin to use marketing strategies to draw users in; Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook will assist with these marketing strategies.

Definitions of Terms
Constructionist: An ontological position that asserts that social phenomena and their meanings are continually being accomplished by social factors. (Bryman, 2008)

Hermeneutics: A term drawn from theology, which, when imported into the social sciences, is concerned with the theory and method of the interpretation of human action. It emphasizes the need to understand from the perspective of the social actor. (Bryman, 2008)

Inductivist: An approach to the relationship between theory and research in which the former is generated out of the latter. (Bryman, 2008)

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Interpretivist: An epistemological position that requires the social scientist to grasp the subjective meaning of social action. (Bryman, 2008)

Net Gen: The generation following Generation X, especially people born in the United States and Canada from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. (Net Generation, 2003)

Web 2.0 Tools: A set of next generation tools that bring computing off the computer and on to the web. They are highly social, and allow users to communicate quickly and efficiently. Examples of these include Twitter and Facebook. (Wolcott, 2007)

Overdrive WOW App: The new mobile app from Broward County Library that allows you to access your library account, search the catalog, place holds, find your nearest library and more. (Kelley, 2012)

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