Library users a literate group

Clare Champion 17th January 2003.

Clare library users visit their libraries more often than their counterparts around the country.

They also use the internet service more frequently than those in other counties and women outnumber men for visits by two to one.

According to the results of a nationwide public library user survey, users are happy with the service provided, with 92% rating it as either very good or good.

The survey was undertaken during a week in April, 2002, by local authority libraries in conjunction with the Library Council.

A total of 23,936 adults were surveyed on their opinion of the library service.

The number of questionnaires distributed in each county was determined by the number of library visits recorded in each county on the week of February 11, 2002.

That week, 9,073 visits to libraries in the county were counted, of which 6,273 were made by adults.

On that basis, 1,040 questionnaires were distributed and completed in libraries in the April survey.

Clare women frequented their library on a more regular basis than men, with 65% of library users surveyed being women.

The only significant difference was among users of the Local Studies Centre in Ennis where an equal number of men and women use the facility.

When asked how often they visited the library, 29% of users reported that they do so more than once a week. The national average was only 19%, and the nearest figure to Clare's was in Tipperary, with 24% of users reporting that they visit the library more than once a week.

A further 22.5% of Clare users stated that they visit their local library "about once a week".

According to the survey, 37.4% of people who use the internet facilities do so more than once a week compared to the national average of 22.6%.

A further 22.5% of internet users go online about once a week.

The survey found that 81% of internet users utilize the service for e-mail purposes and 66% use it for research or study purposes.

When asked what they did when they visited the library on the day of the survey, 55% stated that they borrowed, renewed or returned materials, a much lower percentage than the national average of 82.3%, reflecting the fact that the library service in Clare is more than a book borrowing facility.

The survey also recorded that 24% of people said they looked for information on something, 14% read a newspaper or magazine, 41% used the internet compared to the national average or 17%, 16% studied or read books in the library and 33% of people just browsed. Library visits are often used for more than one purpose.

The results show the purposes for which public libraries are used and the extent to which the library is viewed as a relaxing environment in which to browse, study or read a book or newspaper.

The use of the library as an information and communication centre is obvious from the number of people reporting that they used the library to access information or to use internet for e-mail or research.

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