ST. JOSEPH — Nine out of 10 patrons of the St. Joseph library are satisfied with the services provided and would recommend it to others, according to survey conducted earlier this year.
Two-thirds of respondents said parking is the aspect of their library visit they like the least.
Stephanie Masin, director of the Maud Preston Palenske Library, said the high approval rating was “wonderful. It shows that the library is the center of the community, and it reiterates that our staff works hard to come up with interesting, educational and fun programming for all ages.”
This was one of the most extensive surveys conducted by the library, Masin said, and she thanked those who took the time to complete it.
The survey, conducted from June 28 to Sept. 3, had 562 respondents; 52 percent were from St. Joseph, 28 percent from St. Joseph Township (which contributes tax dollars to the library) and 7 percent from Lincoln Township.
Of those respondents, 87 percent said they are pleased with services, and 90 percent would recommend the library. Forty-one percent said they took part in adult programs, and one-third participated in children’s activities, while 42 percent used the computers.
It wasn’t a big surprise to Masin that parking showed up as an issue, as it continues to be problem for the entire downtown and adjacent neighborhood. One-third said lack of parking in the summer affects their use of the library. Parking was more of a problem for township residents than city dwellers.
Masin said the big problem for the library is the lack of handicap-accessible parking in front of the building, since a large number of patrons have difficulty with mobility. She hopes the city will help out with this as they address continuing flooding along the north side of the building.
The responses that did come “as a little bit of a surprise” to Masin showed that patrons like the location of the library. There has been discussion about looking at a new location, as part of a district library.
Other responses show that the library location has benefits beyond boosting the brain power of visitors. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said the library adds to the value of their homes, while more than half said they combine other downtown activities with a library visit, which could help downtown merchants and vendors at the farmers market.
“Every nice town has a library. It’s a great resource for its residents and promotes positive activities and learning. I would always support keeping and improving our wonderful asset!” one respondent wrote.
Checking out print books remains the most popular service, with 88 percent saying they come to the library for this reason. Sixty-five percent say they use the MELCAT statewide inter-library loan service, and 64 percent of patrons come to the library to study, read and write. Nearly a quarter said they use the library’s WiFi monthly.
The genealogical services, local history and news archives and language learning programs were the least familiar and least used programs.
Almost half of respondents would like to be able to pick up books after hours or have self-serve check-out, while 22 percent would like to see a book vending machine. Masin said she would be willing to look into some self-service option, but she would want to protect the privacy of patrons, and to make sure that materials don’t disappear.
Staff members are seen as a valuable resource, with 58 percent of respondents saying they asked for help from employees within the last year. The library website and the library itself are each used by more than half of patrons to find out about events and services of the library.
Over half of the St. Joseph library patrons also use the Lincoln Township library, although St. Joseph Township residents are more likely to visit the John Beers Road location that St. Joseph residents.
Contact: jmatuszak@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak