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:
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