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A teenage view of the public library: what are the students saying?

Many public libraries are concerned that students do not make the best use of them. Discussion on this tends to be anecdotal but in an attempt to provide empirical data a case study was undertaken in one NSW secondary school examining the relationship which students and teachers had with their closest public library. The findings suggest that there are significant issues for public libraries and decision makers to consider if they are to engage more effectively with young people. They also provide a stimulus for new efforts by teacher and children's librarians to work together. The survey proforma is appended. Edited version of a paper to be published in `Connecting challenges: issues for teacher and children's librarians' edited by Maureen Nimon and to be published in May 2003 by Auslib Press

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Schools and public libraries have a common client base although they view their clients from different perspectives. The children's librarian in the public library and the teacher librarian in the school share an understanding of the physical, emotional and cognitive development of youth, the processes and stages of their literacy development and students' growth of competency in information skills. The children's librarian has a basic knowledge of the expectations of pedagogy and curriculum which gives her an understanding of the role of the teacher librarian. In both schools and public libraries, librarians need to respond to these variables in terms of collection development, programs and activities, displays, service practices, internal spatial arrangements, technological provision and general library environment. The responses will vary from place to place and from librarian to librarian. There is a great deal that the two providers of library services to teenagers have in common.

They have so much in common that there should be a constant dialogue between the two groups of librarians to achieve

* a close awareness of all things pertaining to the shared clientele

* a sharing of rare or expensive resources where possible

* a forum for active and professional networking where experience and differences of perspective can be discussed and understood

* and in some events, like Library and Information Week and Book Week, a sharing of the promotional ideas to present a common front to achieve a greater impact

Such collaboration would devolve to grass roots staff in each organisation who would then contextualise the library services for their young clients. For this to happen there would have to be agreement concerning the relationship at the management level of each organisation and a conviction about the value of this collaboration.

Most of us can look at our libraries and quickly realise that the above is not generally the reality.

Why is this so ?

Potential unfulfilled

It is true that the two organisations have a common client base. It is true that the librarians who deal with this client base deliver many similar services, conduct parallel events and share knowledge. Yet in many communities that is where the commonalities end. In many there is no relationship at all between the public library system and the schools which the children and young adults attend and no relationship at all between any of the principal players or stakeholders. Often there is no contact between managers and principals, no contact between any of the public librarians and teacher librarians, no communication, no shared events. The shared clientele must observe this lack of connection between the two service providers.

For primary schools close enough to walk to the public library, some students may have an occasional visit to look at the books or a Book Week exhibition but for secondary students the provision of library services may as well be on two different planets. Such a situation is not only a waste of opportunities but it defeats some of the educational aims of both groups of librarians, the children's specialist and the teacher librarian.

There is much that can be done easily to establish relationships between school and public libraries but this paper does not attempt to provide a summary of those measures. What is offered here is the reporting of a piece of research conducted from a public library base that explored what students thought of public libraries. It is provided as a stimulus to new efforts by teacher and children's librarians to work together.

It is the concern of many youth services librarians that students do not make the best use of public library facilities. Their concern is heightened in regard to the secondary school cohort, given that these students have a greater load of independent assignment/ research work and that resource based learning is a current teaching approach. Most discussion on this subject within the public library world tends to be anecdotal and based on generalised experience and collective wisdom. In an attempt to enrich discussion with empirical data, a case study was undertaken in one NSW secondary school examining the relationship which students and teachers had with the closest public library.

The study

The public library chosen was a large busy branch library with a wide range of resources, a separate children's library section with specialised collections of fiction, nonfiction and reference books and free and unrestricted access to young adult fiction collections, adult fiction and nonfiction, reference collections, videos and cds, microfilm records, cdroms, a wide range of periodicals (both recreational and academic), a range of newspapers and electronic databases and media.

The selected secondary school was that closest to the public library. It was typical of several others in the region with a population of 1200 students coveting years 7-12, comprehensive, coeducational and catering for a broad range of abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The school has 85 FTE teaching staff who are clients of the school library and potentially of the public library service. They are organised in a fairly typical structure of subject departments with the addition of a middle school module for nurturing years 7-8. By using a single school, a survey could be constructed which could offer some evidence of attitudes, perceptions and usage of the public library by the school client groups (see appendix) while keeping the project relatively small and manageable. Using this data a snapshot of the public library service could be gained which could influence decision making, approaches, policies and relationships. While the study is limited it does offer valuable insights that will inform children's librarians and teacher librarians in other situations.

The survey

The construction of the survey was in the hands of the children's librarian (public library based). Consultation and discussion followed with the teacher librarian (school based) and supportive and enthusiastic agreement was reached on the content. The public library manager and the school principal were approached. Agreement for the survey was gained, with the teacher librarian to be the distribution agent in the school. The sample was to include 50 students in each year from 7 to 12, randomly selected not from students who came to the library but from students at assembly time. Thus there were 300 student responses.

The overall objectives of the survey were to

* ascertain the frequency and nature of usage of the public library by students

* increase awareness of the facilities offered by the public library simply by asking questions relating to the use of such facilities

* ascertain attitudes and perceptions of the public library among members of the school body

The desired outcomes were

* greater use of the public library facilities and collections by students and staff through better targeting and promotion

* increased awareness on the part of the public library staff of the needs of students so that public library facilities, collections, service and management could be more sensitive to those needs

* a closer and more productive relationship between the children's librarian and teacher librarian for cooperative and collaborative approaches to serving the common clientele

* an outline of strategies which would be adopted by the public library at all levels to foster the relationship between schools and the public library

The findings

The survey was set out in sections to facilitate systematic consideration of perceptions both by the students and the researchers.

Section 1 focused on Your use of the public library. It asked for an indication of personal use of the public library including questions about the value the student placed on the library, awareness of hours of opening, use of some of the key sections of the library (technology, reference, local studies, periodicals etc) as well as the usefulness of the library for homework and assignments.

It is perhaps not surprising that 37.6% of the student respondents only visit the library occasionally and 20% have no contact at all. Of the remaining group, responses were evenly spread between `once or more a month' and `once in 6 months' with 5.8% not answering this question.

Two questions related to rating the public library in terms of usefulness for school work viz `a' and `j'. The results showed some disparity which is not easily explained. In `a', 4.6% thought the public library was essential for school needs, 31% thought it OK, 43.3% thought it had occasional usefulness and 17.6% thought it had no usefulness. Some students did not answer the question.

In an almost identical question later ie `j', 21.6% thought the public library was essential for school work, 29.6% thought it OK (nearly the same as `a'), 29.3% thought it was occasionally useful and 16.3% thought it had no usefulness (again, nearly the same as `a'). Since the question relating to school work implies the use of information books, question `d' should have paralleled `a' and `j' but again there were divergences--9.3% said that they almost always use the public library to borrow books of information, 21.3% said that they often did, 41.6% said that they occasionally did and 24.6% said that they never did. On the use of technology in the public library, a figure of 62.6% was recorded as a `no use', while figures of 54.3% were recorded for no use of the reference collection and 67% for no use of the specialist local studies section. For these same questions, the `almost always' use category was correspondingly low--technology use 2.6%, reference use 2.6% and local studies use 1.3%.

One factor which may play a significant part in these results arises from the fact that some of the students travel long distances to this school and approximately 75% travel by public transport to and from school. This may have a quite profound impact on the use of the public library after school hours. Students could walk to the public library from the surveyed school but if there was not a parent to pick them up or a transport link to their home in after school hours, then visits to the public library would be rare. The public library is open at weekends but then student activities are mostly at the mercy of parental support. There are other branches of the public library system in the region and the students could answer for any public library they visited, but for most of the students, the public library near the school was their closest public library from both school and home bases.

There are no real explanations for the anomalies in some of the responses. Some respondents may not have taken the time to read the questions properly, some may have misunderstood the question, some may not have been concentrating, some may not have seen the need to be serious about the task. This data simply has to be taken at its face value and insights gleaned.

Excluding the nonusers of 20% and the occasional users of 37.6%, we really only have informed responses from 42.4% who can say with some certainty what they feel about the public library, what use they make of the different sections, what could be improved and what programs they would respond to. This is a limited figure to work with but in another sense it makes a strong case for a proactive mission to promote the public library within this cohort. Apart from multiplying the public transport links to the public library there have to be other ways that students can be persuaded that this great facility is worth exploring.

Section 2 asked questions under the heading Your perfect public library. Questions were asked about what students would like to find in the public library, with many examples offered, and whether they would use the public library more if certain parts of the public library were improved or changed.

With teenagers it is sometimes hard to separate the brutally honest from the larrikin element in surveys but a large 31.4% responded that none of the suggestions would entice them into the public library. For some questions there was a positive response ie the students would use the public library more if there was better technology (27%), a better location (24%), better study areas (22.6%), better book collections (39.3%), better parking (24%), access to a web based catalogue (32.3%). Better opening hours, more staff and more highly skilled staff all rated less than 20% as an incentive to greater use.

The questions were looking for insights into the kind of relevant service improvements the public library might make. Adults are at the helm of management decisions and despite good intentions and well meaning and encouraging changes in things such as collections, layout, decor, lighting and promotion, the generation gap simply means that it is easy to miss the mark.

The negative responses to using the public library more could reflect that irrelevant services and facilities were chosen for inclusion in the survey list, that the student thought dealing with one library at school was enough for anyone or that the public library had nothing to offer them. It is possible that some students simply see the public library as an extension of school and therefore open to the same lampooning. In this section and several others it was actually the verbal comments invited at the end of each section of the survey that added meat on the bones of the bare survey responses. These will be discussed below. There were strong responses to the idea of better technology, better print collections (without any old books!), better parking facilities (for years 11 and 12) and access to the public library catalogue from the school location ie a web based catalogue. In fact many students alluded to this in other sections--they had a lot to do and did not have time to wander about the library on the chance that something was available, but if they knew that it was there ahead of time they would come and borrow it. Many school library catalogues are now web based but public libraries are lagging behind in this.

In an attempt to assess how much encouragement was given to public library use from the teaching side of the equation, students were asked two questions about Referred use of the public library in Section 3. 21% said that their teachers suggested the public library as a source of information for an assignment (but 31% that their teachers never referred them to the public library). 24.3% of students said that they did use the public library for assignments fairly regularly while another 24.3% that they never used it for assignment work. To round out the picture, 26.3% sometimes used the library for assignments and 23.7% did occasionally.

This does not paint a very positive picture for a free resource which belongs to the community and which seems especially valuable to the secondary school sector. There could be several reasons for this. The transport problem for students has already been mentioned. Other factors could be lack of awareness of the public library's resources, a low opinion of the public library's resources, a lack of commitment to the research process and a feeling of irrelevancy of the public library for their subject needs. Again the comments that followed this section offered insights.

In Section 4 headed Resources and technology, students were asked to rate the various parts of the collection or the facility (whether they used them or not) on a four point scale from `excellent' to `no use'.

Probably the single most obvious feature of this section was the failure to rate almost anything as excellent. The highest score was for the internet/cdrom/microfilm resource but it still only indicated that 14.3 % of students thought these were excellent. Other scores for excellent resources were books 7%, reference materials 11%, newspapers/magazines/journals 6.3%, tapes/ cd/videos 6.3%, posters 3% and interlibrary loan facility 8.7%. As a generalisation, a large cluster of students (42.3%) tended to think that the overall collections (books, reference, electronic sources, journals and magazines, audiovisual, posters) were `OK'. 16.6% thought that these same collections of resources were `poor' and 29.2% that the resources were `no use'. So 45.8% of students were very critical of the quality of public library resources and another 42.3% were unimpressed by the materials that the public library offered. When the questions of usage of the technical and electronic resources of the public library were asked, the statistics were even more polarised--`frequent use' responses were in the range 1.7%-5.7%. `No use' responses were in the range 37%-73.3%.

The public library dilemma

Public library decision makers could immediately begin beating themselves about the head in frustration as they wrestle with the dilemmas of providing a relevant resource base within strained budgets. It should be remembered, however, that students are very demanding--they often want a single title which answers all of their needs for the current assignment. They are likely to be highly critical of the library which cannot supply this.

As well, any collection development program which attempts to follow the recent years of galloping curriculum changes, has a time lag built in which is about a year. So if a student has needs within a new curriculum area the resources will possibly be very thin on the ground in the short term. Add to this the student's tendency to leave the assignment until the last minute when all the best books have gone, and there is a problem in delivering timely, targeted and successful service.

However even though these observations seem to excuse the public library system the message from the survey indicates that it is a serious problem. Are all librarians responsible for the collection development aware of current curriculum needs in the feeder schools in their regions?

Collection development

As part of a much larger collection development issue, a common mantra is that the public library should not be responsible for having curriculum based books in its collection--that this is the responsibility of the school. Three comments about this are

* if adults are demanding books on certain subjects, does the public library not respond? Why should this be any different for children's subjects ? If 30 children all ask for books on Vikings, does this not give a hint for collection development of the junior nonfiction collection?

* if a junior nonfiction collection is being developed in the public library it makes sense to choose relevant school curriculum subjects areas alongside other fiction, infotainment, and recreational nonfiction. Scarce financial resources demand relevancy for all collection development.

* some library decision makers are concerned about static or even falling circulation--does it not seem obvious to add books to the collection which will be borrowed? If the word spreads that there are good books for an assignment in the public library, all the assignment/ curriculum based books will soon be borrowed!

The challenge is to find the right balance but for many public librarians the water is muddied and their response indecisive.

In considering the responses to the questions on the rating of the technology resources and the use of these resources, the reason for such critical assessment may be the expectation of youth to have immediate access to the most up to date technology. Public libraries are struggling to provide enough of the best and there are always booking sheets which delay and limit access in an attempt to be fair to all the community. This issue is a critical one for the future of public libraries as they wrestle with the twin dilemmas of budgetary constraints and community needs.

Public library staff

Section 5 dealt with student perceptions of public library staff. In informal discussions with students and in the comments on the survey sheets the face to face interaction with staff seems to be very important in the student's perception of the library. This is probably no different for the teacher librarian in the school library and the children's/YA librarian in the public library. However it becomes a very critical issue for the public library if it is concerned with the relationship of the school student cohort and the public library. There were only two questions in this section.

To the question about whether staff were helpful 28.6% replied that they were always helpful and 29% that they were sometimes helpful. At the other end of the scale 19.6% felt that the staff were never helpful (though as we said before, lack of `helpfulness' might simply mean that they could not produce a title which would solve all their immediate homework problems). In answer to whether the students asked for help so the staff could at least try to be helpful 36% said that they always asked for help and 26.3% that they sometimes asked for help. Thus 62.3% of students asked for help at least some of the time and received satisfaction. At the other end of the scale 19.6% had never had the experience of helpful public library staff and 19% said that they had never asked for help in the public library.

It would be interesting to know whether the students who had never experienced help from staff were actually the same students who never asked for help or whether they were a different cohort. Following this line of thought it would also be interesting to know whether the answers were based on real experience or stereotypical prejudices.

From the comment section, about a third of the responses were complimentary about the staff, a third were quite critical and a third made no comment at all. Some of the comments have to be suspect when we remember that 57.6% of responses said that they did not use the public library or only used it occasionally. Some students claimed that the staff were `too old', `too crabby', `too rushed to give the help they need', `not good with kids' and `treated kids much worse than they treated adults'. These comments demand reflection but the statistical results did not show quite such a damaging picture.

The public library environment

The sixth section asked three questions relating to the Public library environment which focused on the library behaviour of the respondents and their feelings while being in the public library. The overall interest was whether the students felt that the library was a positive and supportive environment for their studies.

The results show that only 8.3% often stay and work in the library despite 25.3% saying that the library offered a pleasant and positive environment. 25.7% said that they sometimes stayed and worked in the public library while 40.3% never stayed. In responding to the question about quickly borrowing and then working on the materials at home 30.3% said they always did this, 29.3% sometimes did, while 13.7% occasionally did and 20.7% never did. In response to the question on the pleasantness of the library environment the answers were evenly spread with 25.3% saying that it was always positive and 19% that it was never supportive.

There could be many reasons for the patterns outlined above--lack of interest in school set research or reading in general, lack of knowledge of available resources, prejudices about public libraries and their rules, uncomfortable furniture, poor lighting, few study desks, badly located study desks, unsuitable library opening hours, lack of transport home, uncool image to be seen working in the public library etc. For valid conclusions, more intensive questioning would be required.

Programs

The last section, Section 7 was called Finding your way in the public library. It attempted to draw comment on a number of possible programs which could be conducted by the public library. There is always a danger in delineating the choices but for statistical analysis this has to be so.

The programs listed were

* orientation tours of the public library

* information skills sessions

* technology information sessions

* pathfinders lists

* booktalking on fiction and nonfiction

* holiday programs and competitions with prizes

* weekly homework help sessions

The programs which received a resounding `no' vote or a `probably not attend' vote were `Orientation tours of the library' (combined figures added up to 51.7%), `Information skills sessions for collections' (total of 40.4%) and `Booktalking sessions' (total of 46.7%). `Information skills sessions for technology' was a mixture because it had a strong `no'/`probably not' vote of 38.6% but also a strong `excellent idea' vote of 23.3% whereas `Orientation tours', Information skills' generally and `Booktalking' only scored in the range 12.6% -17%. The kinds of programs which scored highly were `Pathfinders lists' (`Excellent idea' 37.7%), `Holiday programs' (`Excellent idea' 32%) and `Homework help' (`Excellent idea 38.7%). The responses for each suggested program scored a `maybe' answer in the range of 25.7%-36.7%.

The positive response to `Holiday programs' and `Homework help' was especially interesting because these had been tried in the library, the response from teenagers was very poor and they were abandoned. Possibly the teenagers did not understand what the programs were offering; or the promotion of the programs did not reach them personally, despite being advertised in their school library with take away brochures and posters. Such programs are expensive in time and staff and constant promotion is the ongoing cost but if there is a need then it is at least worth consideration.

Obviously there are other programs which were not listed which might better suit the teenage student body as a review of professional literature will soon reveal. For example a public library near Seattle in the US stays open until after midnight on a Friday night to run library based activities such as hairdressing, motor mechanics, art in various forms, public speaking and getting your license, in a workshop format for local high school students. In the end it comes down to a debate about what the community of students want from a public library and what the public library decision makers are able to provide.

Qualitative data

While all the data formed the scaffold for the body of knowledge gathered, the invited comments for each section of the survey were often very revealing and quite entertaining. The responses from year 11 and 12 students probably carry the most weight given that they are possibly more perceptive and articulate than juniors and have a greater need for a wide resource base for their studies. Their comment responses also seemed to be more seriously considered compared to some of the junior responses which were obviously written to shock or gain a laugh from peers. In summarised form the comments over the whole survey cohort were

Your use of the public library

* I use the library as a quiet place for study and to finish homework

* I use the public library mainly for photocopying

* Overall, I think the school library is better than the public library--they have better books for my assignments which are easier to read--public library books are too hard

* I only borrow cds/ I borrow cds sometimes

* I used the public library for geography and it was quite useful

* I only use the library for school projects

* Libraries are boring but good for a few people in today's society

* I don't use the public library--I just use the school library if I have to

* I go to the public library to look at sports books and stuff

* I don't go to the library because I have a lot of information at home and on the internet

* I only go to the library to use the internet and to see if there are any good cds

Your perfect library

* The perfect library would have a food court/canteen/coffee shop

* The perfect library would have a better atmosphere, colours and posters

* The best library would have large collections of the best books, free access to the internet and one card for both school and public library borrowing

* The perfect library would be quiet with no small kids

* Make a special section for teenagers/high school kids--the children's section is for little kids and the adult section has an adult atmosphere and we don't fit

* The perfect library would have no fees on books, longer periods for borrowing, easier access and easier places to drop off books

* The perfect library would make it really easy to find the books--they are too hard to find

* The perfect library would have the best magazines, cds, more computers

* The perfect library would have more places that are good for teenagers to sit and read

Referred use of the public library

Most students did not offer any comments for this section--they simply answered the questions

Resources and technology

* Resources are good/resources are not great

* Resources need to be more modern/there are too many old books

* There should be more computers--you have to book and when I need one I can never get one

* cds need to suit--need much more pop and alternative music/more cds/better cds etc

* There aren't enough books on some topics--when one or two are borrowed there isn't anything left/need a larger array of books

* It is no use having old books, old cds, old videos, if you want younger people to use the library

* Need more catalogue computers and then really clear directions about where things are

* We need lessons on the internet to learn how to use it

* Technology doesn't keep up with the times and is often broken down

* Internet and other computer use should be easily available and free

Public library staff

* The staff are friendly and always aiming to please

* The staff are helpful but apologetic about the lack of resources

* Staff could be a bit more informed about the new authors for teenagers, who writes what, most popular authors etc

* The staff should actually know where all the information is

* Staff need to be more student friendly/ they are not good with kids

* I never ask the staff for help because they are so busy with loans/cataloguing/ helping a line of customers, etc/they are too rushed

* The library needs more staff--often the line up is very long

* The staff are really good at finding the best books

* The staff are creators of an uncomfortable, intimidating atmosphere

* Sometimes staff are overly helpful

* Sometimes the staff are really rude--they wouldn't say the same things in the same way to adults/staff are too crabby

* Staff are too old / there is an old feel about the library

* The staff are great and do an excellent job

* Staff should be nicer to us--we're not all homies or punks/we're not all bad or dumb/we just don't know where things are

* Staff shouldn't be so old/standoffish/grumpy/harassed/abrupt/too busy and too rushed

* There should be more staff after school to help us

* Staff don't listen to what kids say and just assume that the first book they give us will do

Public library environment

* The library is a quiet, pleasant place to be

* Maybe there could be a `students only' section where the main information on school subjects could be placed and then we wouldn't bother other people so much

* The library should be a lot quieter/needs better study areas

* The library is far too small/it is a dolls house/lacking in space/crowded

* The library should open early in the mornings (before school) and stay open later at night

* For a positive atmosphere it needs better lighting/colours/space

* Because books seem to be all over the place it is a confusing environment

* The desk area where you have to line up is revolting

* Its an old person's place/it has a dark feel about it/needs light colours not dark wood everywhere

* The public library environment is dull

* Needs to have a different environment when studying--a good studious environment

* It needs toilets inside the library/food and drink available nearby/vending machines /public telephone nearby to ring home/ more parking nearby

Finding your way in the public library

This section suggested seven programs which could be offered by the public library to help teenagers with their information and library needs--Orientation tours from time to time, Information skills sessions, Information technology sessions, Pathfinders lists, Booktalking, Holiday programs and competitions with prizes and weekly Homework help sessions.

* All the programs listed should be implemented

* Homework help is a very good idea (high proportion responded in this way)

* I only need stuff for projects/homework--I don't need anything else

* They need to advertise more and make things like this seem really interesting

* The program ideas are great and would benefit everyone

In discussions with students who thought these ideas were useful there was complete lack of knowledge that the programs had been tried in the recent past at that public library. It seems that saturation publicity and promotion with very professional means (maybe TV and radio slots) might be the only way to reach many teenagers. Brochures and posters were not good enough despite wide display.

The challenge

So there is a great deal of food for thought in these comments. The challenge is to reject being defensive about the issues and to use this snapshot to look through student eyes and to see things with their perspective. Despite the best efforts of the public library staff there are damaged views in this part of the community and it is up to decision makers to see if some of this attitude can be turned around. The public library is for everyone in the community. It is a critical component of the cultural health of the community and teenagers are part of that community. Apart from the moral obligation to serve them well because they are part of the community, their families have paid for this facility and continue to pay for the staff and the collections that form the library and so they deserve some return on their investment. Lastly, they should be served well because their attitudes and patterns of usage will be the statistics of tomorrow. As we all know, budgets and policies and strategic plans are often driven by those statistics.
APPENDIX

SURVEY OF STUDENT USE OF PUBLIC LIBRARY
FACILITIES

The staff in the Public Library would like to offer you the
best service that we can and so we invite you to take a moment
to complete this survey as honestly as you can. If you would like
to make a comment then use the lines at the end of each section.
We do not need names and no one will be identified. Please tick
the response which seems to best reflect the way you feel.

1 Your Use of the Public Library

a) How do you rate Essential OK Occasional Nil
 your use of the
 Public Library
 for your school
 needs?

b) How often do you Once Once Occasionally Nil
 use the Public +/month in 6 months
 Library for your
 school work?

c) Are you aware of Yes Mostly Vaguely No
 the Public
 Library's
 opening hours?

d) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library to always
 borrow books of
 information?

e) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library to always
 use the
 technology?
 (Internet ...)

f) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library to always
 use the Reference
 Collection? (Law
 Collection,
 Statistics,
 Encyclopedias)

g) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library always
 to use the
 specialist Local
 Studies material?

h) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library to always
 use the
 newspapers/
 magazines?

i) Do you use the Almost Often Occasionally No
 Public Library to always
 look everything
 over to discover
 good things to
 read or borrow?

j) Are the things in Almost Often Occasionally No
 the Public always
 Library helpful
 for your school
 work?

k) Do you use the Public Library in any other way? Please comment

2 Your Perfect Public Library

Would you use the Public Library more IF

a) it was open for Yes Probably Maybe No
 longer hours?

b) it was more Yes Probably Maybe No
 conveniently
 located?

c) it was better Yes Probably Maybe No
 equipped for
 quiet study?

d) it had better Yes Probably Maybe No
 technological
 facilities?

e) it had better Yes Probably Maybe No
 book collections?

f) it had better Yes Probably Maybe No
 parking
 facilities?

g) it had more Yes Probably Maybe No
 library staff?

h) the skills of the Yes Probably Maybe No
 library staff
 were better?

i) you could look at Yes Probably Maybe No
 the Public
 Library catalogue
 from the school
 library?

j) Any comments on what your perfect library would be like?

3 Referred Use of the Public Library

a) Do your teachers Yes Sometimes Occasionally No
 suggest that you
 visit the Public
 Library?

b) Do you use the Yes Sometimes Occasionally No
 Public Library
 for your school
 assignments?

c) Any comments about student use

4 Resources and Technology

a) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate the
 books for
 borrowing?

b) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate the
 Reference
 material (things
 which can't be
 borrowed)

c) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No use
 Library how do
 you rate the
 technical
 resources (things
 like Internet, CD
 ROM, microfilm)

d) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate
 newspapers/
 magazines/
 journals?

e) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate tapes/
 CDs/videos?

f) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate the
 poster
 collection?

g) In the Public Excellent OK Poor No Use
 Library how do
 you rate the
 Inter Library
 Loan facility
 (arranging to
 borrow from
 libraries outside
 the Central Coast
 eg, State Lib)?

h) Do you use the Frequently Sometimes Occasionally Never
 Internet at the
 Public Library?

i) Do you use any of Frequently Sometimes Occasionally Never
 the CD ROMs at
 the Public
 Library?

j) Do you use any Frequently Sometimes Occasionally Never
 other technology
 at the Public
 Library?

k) Is there enough Frequently Sometimes Occasionally Never
 access to the
 technology at the
 Public Library?

l) Would you like to comment on the resources of the Public Library

5 Public Library Staff

a) Are the staff Always Sometimes Occasionally Never
 helpful to you
 in the Public
 Library?

b) Do you ask Public Always Sometimes Occasionally Never
 Library staff for
 help when you
 can't find
 information?

c) Would you like to comment about staff at the Public Library?

6 Public Library Environment

a) In the Public Always Sometimes Occasionally Never
 Library do you
 like to look over
 the collections
 and work in the
 library on your
 tasks?

b) In the Public Always Sometimes Occasionally Never
 Library do you
 like to quickly
 borrow something
 and do your work
 at home?

c) Do you find the Always Sometimes Occasionally Never
 Public Library a
 pleasant,
 positive
 environment?

d) Would you like to comment on your view
of the Public Library environment?

7 Finding Your Way in the Public Library

Would any of the following seem to be
a good idea for students at High School?

a) Orientation tours Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 of all the parts
 of the Public
 Library

b) Information Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 skills sessions
 on finding
 information in
 the Public
 Library

c) Information Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 skills sessions
 on using the
 Public Library
 technology

d) `Pathfinders' - Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 lists of places
 to try for
 particular
 assignment themes

e) `Booktalking' - Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 sessions high-
 lighting fiction
 and non-fiction
 on particular
 themes

f) Holiday Programs Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 and competitions
 which offer
 interesting
 events or prizes

g) Special weekly Excellent Idea Maybe Probably Not No
 `Homework Help'
 times where staff
 offer extra time
 to help-you find
 the best
 resources for
 tasks

h) Would you like to comment on how the Public
Library could better serve students?


Heather Fisher holds a Master of Applied Science (Teacher Librarianship) degree and has experience as a children's and young adult librarian in the NSW public library network as well as a teacher librarian and teacher in primary and secondary schools. Address: 33 Hampton Road Waterview Heights NSW 2460
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Author:Fisher, Heather
Publication:Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:6863
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