A lot has changed since the establishment of the very first library, which was open only to a very select audience. In the centuries that followed, the target group broadened and activities expanded. Nowadays, a library is much more than just a place for lending out books and providing information to members. This is evident from a study by BiebPanel conducted among visitors to libraries throughout the Netherlands. This growing target group likes to go to the library to enjoy art and events or simply as a place to sit, study, have a drink or print. By offering additional services that meet the needs of this group, libraries can become an even more valuable part of the community.
A variety of services such as printing characterise the library of today
The concept of a library has existed since ancient times and originated from the need to collect and preserve texts. In those days the texts were on clay tablets or papyrus and the collection was often for the benefit of a private archive. Throughout the centuries, partly due to developments such as the printing press, documents and books slowly became more commonplace. From the 19th century onwards, the first modern, free and open access libraries were founded worldwide, often as places where people could read and study in peace. (Financially) Supported by the state and based on the premise of "self-improvement through books and reading for all classes", their function later shifted to lending books, magazines and documents. From the 21st century onwards, a new development has emerged: the social role has expanded to include an even wider target group and a variety of services such as printing in the library.
Visitors are as important as library members
BiebPanel is a Dutch research platform that was developed in 2009, especially for the library industry. It provides participating libraries with up-to-date information on customers and other target groups. Recently BiebPanel published the results of the national visitor survey 2021. It shows that the visitor, without a membership, is becoming an increasingly important target group for the library. BiebPanel analysed how visitors make use of the library and what a library can do to ensure that they visit even more often.
Why do visitors come to the library?
The results of the Biebpanel survey show that people visit the local library for a variety of activities. For example, 41% of respondents said they come to borrow books, 31% like to read newspapers, magazines or books, 21% come to sit and relax, 13% come to work or study and 13% come to copy, scan and/or print in the library. The results confirm even more that the library plays a very important social role in the community. Not only as an institution that contributes to personal development through information and documentation services, courses and after-school activities but also as a meeting place and centre for community development.
Attracting more library visitors
During the survey, people were also asked about what the library should offer to attract more visitors. Responses included: "Activities that match my interests", "Good seats and a quiet area for reading", "A nice central place where people from the neighbourhood can meet", "Larger collection, more frequently open" and "Refreshments with a cosy corner. Drinks possibly from a vending machine".
These results show plenty of opportunities for libraries to become an important, valued and welcoming meeting place within the community. By offering services that truly meet the needs of visitors.
More library services, more hassle?
As a growing, central public meeting place, a library wants to serve the ever-growing group of visitors as fittingly as possible. To achieve this, a library can expand its services with, for example, the rental of teaching and meeting rooms, secure printing from any mobile device, a coffee corner, snacks/cold drinks from a vending machine or the provision of lockers. But does this also mean more (complicated) payment flows and therefore more work? It doesn't have to!
KUARIO enables libraries to easily manage the complex verification and payment processes that arise from offering these different services to a large and changing customer base. KUARIO links all types of paid self-service devices & services in libraries in the cloud. This not only allows users to pay with a mobile app, but also provides an overall view.
Want to know more? Visit: copy, scan & print in the library.