Monday, November 26, 2018

Berkeley Heights Public Library Survey Results: Summary of Key Findings

1.    What is the age of the person completing this survey?

Ø  A total of 504 surveys were completed representing 3.6% of the population
Ø  54% of the surveys were completed by people in the 26-54 age group and 45% were over the age of 54

2.    If you are responding to this survey for members of your household in addition to yourself,  please indicate their ages.

Combined with the ages of people who completed the survey, the results indicated that there were 1,115 total responses representing the following age groups:

                 Age Group                     No.

·         Under 12                       230
·         12-17                             124
·         18-25                               48
·         26-54                             405
·         55-69                             180
·         70+                                128

3.    Are you a resident of Berkeley Heights?

Ø  97% were residents
Ø  Of those who were not residents, the reasons for using the Berkeley Heights P.L. included a welcoming staff, work in Berkeley Heights and the library’s collections.

4.    How often do you visit the Berkeley Heights Public Library?

Ø  Nearly 70% of the respondents visit the library at least once a month
Ø  23% visit the library a few times a year
Ø  Only 19 responded that they never use the library

Note:  While some residents only use the library a few times a year, keep in mind that residents appreciate the library when they have the occasion to use it.  Someone commented on Question 12:  “The library is vital to the community. While we only use it for a few services, the wide range of services offered need to be maintained and expanded to serve everyone.”

5.    If you never use the library or if you only use the library’s electronic resources (such as Overdrive and the online catalog), please tell us why and then skip to question 10.

The most cited reason for not using the library included:

Ø  Location of temporary facility
Ø  Use of the library’s electronic resources from home
Ø  Waiting for a more modern, digital library
Ø  Equate use of the library with use by their children

The most cited reason for not using the library included:
It is interesting to note that after reading the possible responses to the questions regarding collections and services, a few of the respondents indicated that they would make it a point to now go to the library.

6.    When you come to the library, how long do you usually stay?

Ø  Nearly half of the survey respondents were at the library for 1—30 minutes
Ø  26% stayed for between 30 minutes and 1 hour

7.    Which of the library’s collections are important to you and members of your household? (Check all that apply)

Ø  Print books were by far the most popular, particularly for adults (70%) and children (38%)
Ø  Over 50% of the respondents are interested in best sellers
Ø  27% favored print books for young adults and 24% for teens
Ø  Other popular collections included DVDs (36%) and digital media (35%)
Ø  Less popular collections were Audiobooks on CD (19%), music CDs (8%) and print reference books (14%) 

Subject areas mentioned in the comments included history, cookbooks, classics, educational reference, self-help, business reference, biographies, science, and genealogy.

Other comments included blu-ray discs, foreign language books, baby books and toys and puzzles in the children's library. 

8.    What library services are important to you and members of your household? (Check all that apply)

Ø  The library’s website and reserving books were important services by nearly 2 out of 3 respondents
Ø  The ILL service 50% and the library’s wi-fi (38%) were also important
Ø  Several other services were highly regarded including:
·         Children’s programs
·         Access to research databases
·         Computers in the library
·         Photocopiers
·         Adult programs

In the comments section, several respondents mentioned they were interested in movies at the library.  Others were interested in quiet study space and a dedicated meeting room for community events.

9.    Check the collections and services that you and members of your household have used in the past 2 years, either at the current temporary library or the former library on Plainfield Ave.

Library patrons enjoyed a wide range of services that included:

Ø  Borrowed books - 442
Ø  Checked the library’s website - 263
Ø  Borrowed DVDs - 251
Ø  Used ILL service - 224
Ø  Received readers advisory service from staff - 195
Ø  Downloaded eBooks or audio books - 172
Ø  Used library’s wi-fi - 171
Ø  Sought reference help - 152
Ø  Read magazines/newspapers - 150
Ø  Borrowed audio books - 130
Ø  Used the photocopier - 124
Ø  Attended children’s programs - 117
Ø  Accessed the Internet on a library computer - 105

10.   Which of these collections and services would you like to see the library offer / improve /   expand?   

Ø  Patrons overwhelmingly want more items to borrow including books, DVDs and downloadable books/music
Ø  Patrons also want more programs for adults and for school-aged children
Ø  21% would like to have self-checkout (although 3 people commented that they preferred the human interaction with staff over self-checkout)

In the comments, patrons are interested in a larger collection of new books/best sellers, museum passes and audio books.  A few mentioned meeting room space available for library and community programs. 

Below is a word cloud that shows the 20 words that appear most frequently in the comments section:

11.   In the past 2 or 3 years, what other public libraries in the area did you or members of your household regularly use?

The top three other libraries patrons visited were:

Ø  New Providence
Ø  Long Hill
Ø  Summit

Many people indicated that they used other libraries when the BH Library was closed.  Otherwise, the most popular reason was a larger collection and newer titles and more quiet study space.

12.  What would you like to tell us that we have not already asked you about the Berkeley Heights Public Library?

     There were 178 responses; over 1/3 of the respondents took the time and effort to comment.  The overwhelming majority of the comments were praise for the library and the staff.

The most often stated comments regarding collections and services included:
Ø  Larger print collections, especially books
Ø  More newer titles
Ø  More downloadable digital titles
Ø  More community and library programs for all ages
Ø  Enhanced program of service for children
Ø  More technology including iPads and tablets for use in the library
Ø  Museum passes

With respect to the library facility, several respondents stated they are looking forward to moving into the new facility, although there were a few comments expressing concern about the location and smaller size being planned.  In particular respondents said they want:

Ø  Adequate meeting rooms for community engagement
Ø  Space for both quiet and group study
Ø  Space for teens separate from the children’s area
Ø  Design the new library with lots of windows
Ø  Outdoor play area for kids

Other relevant single cited comments/suggestions included:

Ø  Phone call or text to remind of an overdue item
Ø  Reading nooks in the library
Ø  More staff picks
Ø  Return the book sale
Ø  Form a Friends of the Library group
Ø  Maker space; 3-D printer
Ø  One-on-one tech help for patrons
Ø  Longer loan period for new books
Ø  More outreach to teens
Ø  Bus stop at the library
Ø  Publish updates about the status of the new library
Ø  Art gallery in the new library
Ø  Design new library to be a technology and community center
Ø  Expand movie programs; include closed captioning
Ø  Ability to pay overdue fees online
Ø  Longer hours

The 20 words that appear most frequently in the comments

Monday, September 10, 2018

Life at 110 Roosevelt

The book drop has arrived, the book drop has arrived.  No, the British are not coming, but the book drop has arrived.  This is the last major milestone of the move from 290 Plainfield Avenue to 110 Roosevelt Avenue.  Several smaller milestones, perhaps only milepebbles, are still to be accomplished.

It is safe to say that we are so settled in the convent/rectory that no large pieces of furniture have been moved recently and the electrician has not been called again to install more light fixtures.  We understand that we can safely hang out a second floor window to clean the drains in the flat roof sections or, if we decide to stay safe and dry, where to put the buckets to catch the water dripping through the ceiling in the back hall.

The Recreation Department staff is now occupying three rooms on the upper level.  No one expected them to be evicted from the blue house so quickly.  Getting their phone number and extensions transferred has evolved into one of the milepebbles referred to earlier.  Patience truly is a virtue when dealing with the various service providers involved.

Reaction to the building has been varied.  A patron who has been visiting the library since she was a small child came in with her grandchildren last week.  She was absolutely enchanted by the coziness and loved how carefully the collections had been scattered throughout the spaces.  Also last week, a patron stopped me in a store to tell me the building is claustrophobic and how she felt like she was intruding in a private home when she walked from room to room.  The reaction from many people is a pleasant surprise at how much we managed to squeeze into the smaller space.  The reaction from some people is displeasure that we didn’t bring their favorite book.  I am occasionally surprised when the first title in a series went into storage but the next seven titles are here.  When dealing with over 75,000 items I think we did fairly well.

We were purchasing new books, DVDs, audio books and downloadable titles even while the library was closed.  The focus was bestsellers and series titles so the New Book shelves would be ready for re-opening.  The focus has since expanded, but we are still purchasing cautiously with an eye on available space.  Titles that are considered NBNE (nice but not essential) or received mediocre reviews are not making the cut.  Be sure to ask for a request slip if you don’t find what you’re looking for.  We’ll check the reviews, check the catalogs of nearby libraries or, depending on the age of the book, try Interlibrary Loan.  More patrons are trying ebooks and eaudio from Hoopla and OverDrive.  Try it, you might like it.

The actual distance between 290 Plainfield and 110 Roosevelt is minimal.  It is right around the corner or a pleasant walk through the woods and over the bridge.  The difference between the two locations seems much larger – from a busy street to a quiet wooded site with frequent visits from the local deer population.  The cozy feel encouraged us to start a community jigsaw puzzle – one or two people are frequently sitting in the puzzle room looking puzzled.

Stop in soon if you haven’t been here yet.  Regular hours, including 2 - 5 on Sundays, started after Labor Day and will continue through June.
~S. Bakos

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Designer Showcase: Library Version

Designer Showcases appear throughout New Jersey every spring.  They are major fundraisers for hospitals, The Junior League, and other worthy organizations.  Best of all, you can see beautiful furnishings, architecturally interesting buildings, and spring gardens.  Also, you can eat lunch in a big white tent.

Every designer showcase has before and during the transformation pictures in every room.  The before pictures are frequently black & white and give the impression that you will see ghosts if the light is just right.  We should have taken more before pictures to help everyone understand how much several of the spaces at 110 Roosevelt Avenue have changed.  

A prime example is Circulation, the most easily identified room inside the front door. It started as a small office with a door to the center hall and a small window where staff could talk to anyone entering the Rectory.  To become an efficient space for a public library it was necessary to move the door around to the side, enlarge the small window, and cut a new large window on the hallway.  Bits and pieces of the old upstairs and downstairs circulation desks have been cobbled together to provide workspace for staff to check books in and out.

The main hallway is wide enough to house the entire DVD collection.  Making two-sided shelving into one-sided shelving was noisy and dusty.  The new copier is also pictured.

Creating an ADA compliant bathroom involved eliminating one door, widening one door, joining back-to-back closets together, removing an old bathtub, and repositioning two new toilets and
a basin.  The size of the space and necessary requirements required creativity and careful planning as well as dealing with plumbing from the early 1960’s. 

 The final result, after the bathroom construction, included the extra bonus of a bright and comfortable newspaper/magazine room.