Guidelines for Designing a Library Survey
Things to think about:
- What information do you want to gather? You can use a survey questionnaire to conduct a needs assessment, to evaluate patron satisfaction with your services, or both. You can also gather demographic information about your service population.
- Whom do you want to hear from? Are you looking for feedback from your patrons, or do you want to hear from non-users, too? That wills determine how you design and distribute your survey.
- What will you do with the information you get from the survey? How will you evaluate and present your survey results – and to whom?
- Remember that patron surveys can also be an effective tool for marketing library services. For example, a community survey may inform community members about services they are unaware of.
Designing the survey:
- It’s a good idea to include fixed response questions that use a Likert scale, for example:
When you visit the library, are you able to find what you are looking for?
- A Likert scale lends itself to use in a matrix, as in survey sample #3 (see below)
- It’s a good idea to include an open-ended question or two in your survey
- It’s also a good idea to limit your written questionnaire to one or both sides of a single page
How will you distribute the survey?
- You can mail a survey questionnaire to the community at large, or to a random sample of registered patrons or community members. Consider the cost of postage for a mailed survey. How will the surveys be returned to the library?
- You can place written questionnaires, pencils and boxes for deposit of completed questionnaires in various locations around town. Using this method, you have an opportunity to hear from non-users as well as library users. Make an attractive display for the questionnaires and you will be marketing the library at the same time.
- Arrange to put surveys as inserts in power bills, newspaper advertising supplements, checked out books, or any other vehicles of dissemination you can think of.
- Provide questionnaires for your patrons to complete during their visits to the library, or post an online survey on the library Web page.
- To insure a higher rate of return, provide incentives for return of surveys, such as having returned surveys entered into a drawing for prizes or giving out library promotional items in exchange for returned surveys.
Create your own survey or adapt an existing survey:
These Sample Library Surveys (pdf) are provided for your use, including:
- Sample #1 – a general, single-question survey for library patrons
- Sample #2 – a single-question survey for library patrons
- Sample #3 – a patron satisfaction survey that uses fixed response questions, a Likert scale matrix, and an open-ended question
- Sample #4 – a user satisfaction and needs assessment survey that uses fixed response questions, check boxes, open-ended questions, and demographic questions