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FINAL DETAILED REPORT. FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO RE-DEVELOP CIVIC LIBRARY SERVICES. Report prepared for: ACT Department of Urban Services (ACT Library and Information Services) Agency contacts: Mr Stephen Gilfedder (DUS)

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FINAL DETAILED REPORT

FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS

TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO

RE-DEVELOP CIVIC LIBRARY SERVICES

Report prepared for: ACT Department of Urban Services

(ACT Library and Information Services)

Agency contacts: Mr Stephen Gilfedder (DUS)

Brenda Thompson and Merrilee Pigram (ACTLIS)

Report prepared by : Mr David Collins

Managing Director

Market Attitude Research Services Pty Ltd

Sydney, Australia

Ph: 02-9525 3200 Fax: 02-9525 3656

Email: [email protected]

MARS J638

26 March 2004

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

Background and Methodology…………………….………………………………………..3

Key Findings …….…………………………………………………………………………..5

Recommendations……………….………………………………………………………….9

Detailed Findings ……………………………………………………….…………………..12

Level of Awareness and Usage and Opinion of Civic Library …………………………13

Services and Facilities Desired in an “Ideal” Library …………………………………...22

Current Civic Library User and Potential User Assessments

of Possible “Ideal” Library Concepts…………. ………………………………………….32

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BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY

Civic Library will be required to move during 2004 from its current location near the ACTION bus interchange at Civic to a new temporary location at ground floor ACTEW AGL House near the ACT Legislative Assembly. In the longer term a permanent site for Civic Library will be developed.

The new temporary ground floor location at ACTEW AGL House is slightly smaller than the current space size of Civic Library. To assist ways to design Civic Library into a smaller space and to take the opportunity to re-develop Civic Library in ways which would “enhance” the library as being experienced by users and perceived (by potential library users) as a “new, modern, attractive library”, the Department of Urban Services (and the ACT Library and Information Services) decided to commission two (2) focus group discussions to gain Civic Library user and potential user assessments of the types of services and facilities which would make an attractive library.

The findings from the focus group discussions will then assist design team considerations on floor layout and specific library features to include in the re-development of Civic Library at ACTEW AGL House.

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BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY continued

Market Attitude Research Services Pty Ltd (MARS) undertook two focus group discussions covering the following categories of people:

Session 1: A mix of Canberra residents who work in the Civic area and do not regularly use

Civic Library; Canberra residents who are regular Civic Library customers; and overseas backpacker visitors to Canberra living and working in Civic

…this session was conducted during the evening, Thursday 18 March 2004.

Session 2: A mix of Canberra residents who live in Civic or nearby inner north suburbs and

do not regularly use Civic Library; Civic and nearby residents who are regular Civic Library

customers; and overseas backpacker visitors to Canberra living and working in Civic

…this session was conducted during the morning, Friday 19 March 2004.

Twenty four (24) people participated in the focus groups. The two focus groups were observed (with participants’ consent) by officers of the Department of Urban Services (and the ACT Library and Information Services).

A summary report is also available providing support to this Final Detailed Report.

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KEY FINDINGS

From the focus group discussions with regular Civic Library users, other residents of Canberra who live or work in the Civic/inner north Canberra area and who rarely or never use Civic Library, and young overseas backpacker travellers visiting and working in Canberra identified the following key findings…

WAYS TO ADDRESS DEVELOPING THE NEW CIVIC LIBRARY

LEVEL OF AWARENESS, USAGE AND OPINION OF CIVIC LIBRARY

The focus groups found that amongst non-users of Civic Library there was awareness of Civic Library, but little interest in using Civic Library services or facilities. However, amongst Civic Library users such as residents of Canberra and overseas backpackers living in Civic who use Civic Library there was overall satisfaction expressed for the services and facilities provided, but a level of dissatisfaction with the drab look and feel of Civic Library, the small size of Civic Library and the lack of privacy when using the library’s internet and DVD services. Specific findings for each target audience are discussed below.

Discussion found that Civic Library non-users (in the Civic Library target audience of Canberra residents living or working in or near the Civic area who do not use Civic Library) were aware of Civic Library but rarely or never use Civic Library. These Canberra residents living or working in the Civic Library catchment area knew little about Civic Library and largely did not have any specific positive or negative opinions held about Civic Library except that the library seemed “small in size”.

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LEVEL OF AWARENESS, USAGE AND OPINION OF CIVIC LIBRARY continued

In the Civic Library target audience of overseas backpackers living and working in Canberra, while some young adult overseas backpackers living and working in Canberra (and living in backpacker hostels located in Civic) were using Civic Library quite regularly, other young backpackers were not (because they were not aware of Civic Library). The young adult overseas backpackers using Civic Library did so because of the internet, DVD and book reference services provided. These overseas backpackers rated Civic Library positively for being able to access the internet (at no cost) to send emails to friends and family, and to research travel locations in Australia or elsewhere, and to play and watch DVD movies.

Current customers of Civic Library living in or near Civic or working in Civic believed the space available for Civic Library was small (and this was a negative aspect of Civic Library). However, these regular customers generally rated Civic Library positively in provision of reference books, business information, and quality of customer service provided by library staff. A negative comment expressed about Civic Library by its customers was the lack of privacy experienced when using the library internet services. The interior design style of Civic Library was also said to be plain, dull and unattractive. However, despite these negative comments customers of Civic Library expressed mostly positive views. The central location of Civic Library in Civic also received favourable comment.

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  • SERVICES AND FACILITIES DESIRED IN AN “IDEAL” LIBRARY
  • Next in the focus group discussion, the participants were asked to think about and write down ideas about the features, services and facilities they would expect in their “ideal” library, and then to discuss their thoughts.
  • Both users and non-users of Civic Library tended to express similar expectations about what they would want in their “ideal” library. These expectations were:
    • for the library to have a modern design, and look and feel;
    • for library internet services and DVD and other audio-visual services to be based on modern high
    • technology with computer printer services available;
    • for seating areas to be placed in areas (or separate glassed enclosed rooms) which provide a mix
    • of comfortable lounge style seating and writing tables and chairs (which allow easy writing ability
    • and ability to spread out reading material being read or examined);
    • for internet areas and DVD and other audio-visual facilities to have partitioned workstation type of
    • set-ups so that privacy is provided from nearby people and from public library traffic and
    • movement of people;
    • having a group room provided which allows small group sessions to be conducted as needed
    • away from the quieter areas of the library;
    • for contemporary newspapers, magazines and reference material (including business references)
    • to be provided;
    • having well stocked fiction/non-fiction book services; and
    • providing fast, efficient loan material check-in and check-out systems (such as electronic self
    • registering systems) to minimise queuing waiting times, and to support this system with efficient
    • electronic cataloguing systems (that is, information systems which can be easily accessed by
    • library customers to readily identify specific books, DVD’s, and other information products which
    • the library can offer to customers) to assist busy people to not waste time while using a library.
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  • CURRENT CIVIC LIBRARY USER AND POTENTIAL USER ASSESSMENTS OF POSSIBLE “IDEAL” LIBRARY CONCEPTS
  • The final stage of the focus group discussions presented fourteen (14) visual concepts (presented as photographic images) for evaluation to test with the participants possible interior design ideas which could be incorporated in the re-development of Civic Library. The most attractive and interesting library concepts which emerged in order of strength of appeal were:
    • Internet services arranged in rows of partitioned workstations;
    • Lounge chairs and coffee tables mixed with writing tables and chairs set out comfortably in a
    • spacious area;
    • Newsagency style of displays presenting the range of magazine selections;
    • Electronic self checkout for borrowed library material;
    • Providing comfortable seating and good lighting;
    • Having an interior design with modern, bright, colourful spaces, and colourful feature walls and
    • dividing walls; and
    • Having bookshop styles of displays of CD’s and DVD’s.
  • Additional discussion also identified that other desired features were:
    • having group meeting rooms (preferably partitioned with glass) so that study groups or small
    • groups of people could meet without disturbing other library users; and
    • if floor space is limited at the new re-developed Civic Library then consumer preferences were for
    • giving priority to floor space mixed with lounge chairs and seating with writing tables, and if book
    • shelving space is limited, to actively publicise the availability of a two day internet/telephone
    • ordering service which delivers ordered library products from other ACTLIS libraries to Civic
    • Library.
  • Some libraries in Australia do not provide seating for library users. This type of library concept was rejected by the focus group participants when this style of library design was raised with them.
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RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the findings which emerged from the focus group discussions the following recommendations are made for Department of Urban Services (and ACT Library and Information Services) management consideration to assist in the re-development of Civic Library…

  • It is recommended that re-development for Civic Library consider the inclusion of the following features:
  • for the library to have a modern design, and look and feel;
  • for library internet services and DVD and other audio-visual
  • services to be based on modern high technology with computer
  • printer services available;
  • for seating areas to be placed in areas (or separate glass enclosed
  • rooms) which provide a mix of comfortable lounge style seating and
  • writing tables and chairs (which allow easy writing ability and ability
  • to spread out reading material being read or examined);
  • for internet areas and DVD and other audio-visual facilities to have
  • partitioned workstations type of set-ups so that privacy is provided
  • from nearby people and from public library traffic and movement of
  • people;
  • providing at least one group room which allows small group
  • sessions to be conducted as needed away from the quieter areas of
  • the library;
  • for contemporary newspapers, magazines and reference material
  • (including business references) to be provided;
  • having well stocked fiction/non-fiction book services; and
  • providing fast, efficient loan material check-in and check-out
  • systems (such as electronic self registering systems) to minimise
  • queuing waiting times, and support this system with efficient
  • electronic cataloguing systems (which allow library customers to
  • quickly identify specific books and other products which are
  • available) to assist busy people to not waste time while at the library.

RECOMMENDATION ONE

…this recommendation is made because both current users of Civic Library and potential users of Civic Library (who currently rarely or never used Civic Library) expressed opinion that these features would make a library an attractive, enticing and interesting place to visit.

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RECOMMENDATIONS continued

  • It is recommended the the re-development of Civic Library should consider the following interior design features (in order of priority):
  • Internet services arranged in rows of partitioned workstations;
  • Lounge chairs and coffee tables set out comfortably in a spacious
  • area mixed with writing tables with appropriate seating;
  • Newsagency style of displays presenting the range of magazine
  • selections available;
  • Electronic self checkout for borrowed library material;
  • Providing comfortable seating and good lighting;
  • Having an interior design with modern, bright, colourful spaces,
  • and colourful feature walls and dividing walls;
  • Having group meeting rooms with glass partitioned walls; and
  • Bookshop styles of displays showing CD’s and DVD’s.

RECOMMENDATION TWO

…this recommendation is made because these interior design features when presented in visual concept displays to the focus group participants generated strong interest, or were suggested as ideas for Civic Library to consider.

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RECOMMENDATIONS continued

RECOMMENDATION THREE

It is recommended that if floor space at the new re-developed Civic Library is limited then floor space priority should be given to a mix of lounge chairs and seating with writing tables, and if book shelving space is limited, to actively promoting the availability of a two day internet/telephone ordering service which delivers ordered library products from other ACTLIS libraries to Civic Library.

…this recommendation is made because it was found that both users and non-users of Civic Library were prepared to trade-off bookshelf floor space as long as lounge seating and seating and writing table facilities were not reduced, and promotion and marketing was enhanced by Civic Library to advise library users and potential users that they could book by internet or telephone their library product order for pick-up in two days time.

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  • DETAILED FINDINGS
  • Outcomes from focus group
  • discussions with Civic Library
  • customers and potential customers
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Page 13

LEVEL OF AWARENESS, USAGE AND

OPINION OF CIVIC LIBRARY

  • Within each of the three categories of people included in the focus group discussions the following broad summary of awareness, usage and opinion of Civic Library emerged:
    • Current customers of Civic Library – comments and ratings were expressed by Canberra
    • residents regularly using Civic Library that while most believed the space available for Civic
    • Library was small (and this was a negative aspect of Civic Library), regular customers generally
    • rated Civic Library positively in provision of reference books, business information, and quality of
    • customer service provided by library staff. The central location of Civic Library in Civic also
    • received favourable comment. A negative comment expressed about Civic Library by its
    • customers was the lack of privacy experienced when using the library internet services. The
    • interior design style of Civic Library was also said to be plain, dull and unattractive.
  • The focus group participants using Civic Library facilities were found to be using a wide range
  • of services covering:
      • using library internet services for personal and business use;
      • accessing business reference services;
      • reading daily newspapers provided for public access;
      • watching DVD or accessing DVD loans;
      • accessing general reference services; and
      • accessing fiction and non fiction book loans.
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Specific comments expressed by Civic Library customers during the focus group discussions were…

“I am satisfied with Civic Library but it is a bit dull in its interior design and is too open. I mean the seating areas to watch a DVD or use the internet are not private enough because people walking past can look over your shoulder and watch what you are doing. It feels uncomfortable!”.

(Female, 33 years, public sector manager, user of Civic Library)

“I am positive about Civic Library. I use it every day to conduct my business activities on the internet. It has a lot of transient people present, and this is positive because you can meet and talk to different types of people. But the negative issue about Civic Library is that there is no privacy. You are in an exposed space when you use the internet. There are no private workstations to give privacy when using the internet”.

(Male, 52 years, sole trader businessperson, user of Civic Library)

“Civic Library is small but it is handy for my purposes. You can access newspapers and use DVD and internet services. It is a good place to access reference material.”

(Female, 28 years, UK backpacker visitor to Canberra living in Civic, user of Civic Library)

“I am happy enough with Civic Library. It is conveniently located near the bus interchange. The library staff give very good service. But it is a small library and you feel a little exposed when sitting in the library. Maybe it needs more separated rooms for people sitting down to study or use the internet”.

(Male, 34 years, disability pensioner, user of Civic Library)

The conclusion to draw is that although Civic Library customers are satisfied with Civic Library the small size of the library, the dullness in interior design and the perceived lack of privacy when using internet and DVD facilities were issues causing Civic Library customer concern and annoyance.

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Private comment written in private questionnaires completed by the focus group participants who are regular users of Civic Library identified the following thoughts…

“I use Civic Library for its internet services, newspapers, magazines, and general references. I am very positive about Civic Library. It has very good internet facilities and a good central location. Both features are remarkable. But Civic Library does have its drawbacks because there are too few private working spaces, especially when you are using the internet services. People are always walking behind you or stopping to see what you are doing.”

(Male, 52 years, sole trader business person, operating a business

in inner north suburbs, regular user of Civic Library)

“I regularly visit Civic Library twice or three times a week for book loans, interlibrary loans, its internet services, audiobooks and CD and video loans, accessing electronic data bases, and for reading magazine and videos. I am very positive about Civic Library because of excellent service provided by staff, its convenient location to where I work in Civic, and its access to books throughout the ACT”.

(Female, 40 years, part-time employed, working in Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

“I am very aware of Civic Library and regularly use it. I watch DVD’s, use the catalogue to reserve items, and borrow books, and use magazines and videos. It has a good range of services, easy access, and friendly, helpful staff.

(Female, 33 years, public sector executive, regular user of Civic Library)

“I am satisfied with Civic Library. I use it for accessing the internet and photocopiers, and for newspapers and book borrowing services.”

(Male, 29 years, ANU student who lives near Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

“I use Civic Library and use the catalogue computer to find books and CD’s to borrow. It is OK but there isn’t enough DVD’s available and staff always seem to busy to help when you need them.”

(Female, 29 years, casual waitress, lives in Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

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“I am very aware of Civic Library because I use it for loans of CD’s and DVD’s, and to read newspapers and use the internet. I am positive about it because the library has good resources.”

(Female, 17 years, waitress working in Civic and lives near Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

“I use Civic Library and use the catalogue computer to find books and CD’s to borrow. It is OK but there isn’t enough DVD’s available and staff always seem too busy to help when you need them.”

(Female, 29 years, casual waitress, lives in Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

“I am very positive about Civic Library. I use it every few days for book loans, audio books, reference books, and to read the newspapers. The staff are professional, courteous, and obliging, and the library seems generally well resourced.”

(Male, 70 years, retired, lives near Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

“I am very positive about Civic Library. I visit every second day for reading of newspapers and borrowing of books.”

(Female, 62 years, resident of inner south Canberra, retired, regular user of Civic Library)

“I regularly use Civic Library and am positive about it. I use it to borrow CD’s and books, and use the reference books. The library is handy to where I live and seems to be well supplied.”

(Male, 34 years, disability pensioner, living near Civic, regular user of Civic Library)

The general conclusion to draw is that for a range of reasons most customers of Civic Library express satisfaction.

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  • Canberra residents living or working in or near the Civic area who do not use Civic
  • Library – most non-users of Civic Library were aware of Civic Library but rarely or never use
  • Civic Library. Canberra residents not using Civic Library who were living or working in the Civic Library
  • catchment area knew little about Civic Library, and largely did not have any specific positive or
  • negative opinions held about Civic Library except that the library seemed small in size. This category
  • of non-users of Civic Library are regarded as future potential library users if library facilities and
  • services can be designed to effectively meet their needs and attract interest.
  • Specific comments expressed by non-users of Civic Library during the focus group discussions were…
  • “I don’t use Civic Library, but I am aware of it. It has books and internet available to use. But Civic Library doesn’t look big enough, nor does it seem to have a lot of computer access.”
  • (Male, 22 years, CIT student, non-user of Civic Library)
  • “I am aware of Civic Library but I have never used it. I simply don’t have any perceptions about it.”
  • (A common comment expressed by people who don’t use Civic Library)
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  • Within private questionnaires completed by non-users/irregular users of Civic Library the following thoughts were expressed…
  • “I am aware of Civic Library and I have used it occasionally in the past for reading newspapers and magazines. I am generally positive about Civic Library. It has helpful staff and a good base of information that suits my needs.”
  • (Male, 21 years, CIT student, rarely uses Civic Library)
  • “I have used Civic Library occasionally over the years to use the internet and access reference books. But I hold a negative view of Civic Library because it has a bad use of space. It doesn’t feel private when you use its services and there are too many transient people using the library.”
  • (Male, 37 years, disability pensioner, who undertakes voluntary
  • work near Civic, rarely uses Civic Library)
  • “I am aware of Civic Library. But I never use it.”
  • (Female, 22 years, public sector executive, working in Civic, never uses Civic Library)
  • “I am aware of Civic Library but I have never been there and cannot make any judgment about it.”
  • (Female, 23 years, public sector executive, working in Civic, never uses Civic Library)
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“I have used Civic Library in the past, but I don’t use it now. But I found it positive because it had technical business books I needed in graphic design.”

(Male, 30 years, marketing executive, works in Civic, rarely uses Civic Library)

“I am aware of Civic Library. But I have no opinion of it as I never use it.”

(Male, 26 years, lawyer, works in Civic, never uses Civic Library)

“I have never used Civic Library, but my son has used it and he tells me it is adequate.”

(Female, 39 years, part-time employed, lives near Civic, never uses Civic Library)

“I am very unaware of Civic Library. I have never used or have even heard of this library.”

(Male, 26 years, recent arrival in last six months from Brisbane, living in Civic)

“I am aware of Civic Library but I have never used it.”

(Female, 27 years, recent arrival in last six months from UK, working in Civic and living in Tuggeranong))

The general conclusion to draw is that Canberra residents living or working in Civic either have little knowledge of Civic Library, or have used Civic Library in years past and have been satisfied with the services and products provided.

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  • Overseas backpackers living and working in Canberra – some of the young overseas
  • backpackers living and working in Canberra (and living in backpacker hostels located in Civic)
  • were using Civic Library quite regularly, although other young backpackers were not (because
  • they were not aware of Civic Library). The young adult overseas backpackers using Civic
  • Library did so because of the internet, DVD and book reference services provided. In other
  • words, these overseas backpackers rated Civic Library positively for being able to access the
  • internet (at no cost) to send emails to friends and family and to research travel locations in
  • Australia or elsewhere, and to play and watch DVD movies.
  • Backpacker visitors made the following comments…
  • “I am very aware of Civic Library. I regularly use Civic Library for reading magazines and newspapers and using the internet. I am very satisfied with Civic Library because it has friendly staff, a good magazine selection, and a no cost email service.”
  • (Female, 18 years, UK backpacker, visiting and living in Civic)
  • “I visit Civic Library quite a lot to use the reference section, the internet, and the Yellow Pages directories. It is OK.”
  • (Female, 28 years, UK backpacker visiting and living in Civic)
  • “I am very unaware of Civic Library. I have never used this library.”
  • (Male, 26 years, UK backpacker visiting and living in Civic)
  • “Civic Library is OK. But I have only used it once to use the internet.”
  • (Female, 26 years, Canadian backpacker visiting and living in Civic)
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“I am positive about Civic Library. I haven’t used it yet but it seems to have a good location and easy access.”

(Male, 27 years, UK backpacker, visiting and living in Civic)

The general conclusion to draw is that overseas backpacker visitors living and working in Civic are generally aware of Civic Library, and if they have used Civic Library they have been satisfied with the services provided.

Conclusion

The focus groups found that amongst non-users of Civic Library there was awareness of Civic Library, but at the present time little interest in using Civic Library services or facilities. However, amongst residents of Canberra who use Civic Library and overseas backpackers living in Civic and who use Civic Library there was overall satisfaction expressed for the services and facilities provided, but a level of dissatisfaction with the drab look and feel of Civic Library, the small size of Civic Library and the lack of privacy when using the library’s internet and DVD services.

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SERVICES AND FACILITIES DESIRED

IN AN “IDEAL” LIBRARY

  • Next in the focus group discussion, the participants were asked to think about and write down ideas about the features, services and facilities they would expect in their “ideal” library, and then to discuss their thoughts. Unprompted outcomes and comment which emerged are shown below:
  • Current customers of Civic Library - in terms of their ideal library design amongst current
  • customers of Civic Library the following design expectations and facilities emerged:
    • providing a separate room or partitioned area for internet and DVD user services;
    • providing a lot of internal space and separate group meeting rooms;
    • having customer friendly, knowledgeable staff available to assist library users;
    • having a modern style of interior design;
    • providing modern technology based internet and DVD services;
    • providing a mix of private reading chairs (lounge chairs) and seating chairs and writing
    • tables to assist studying and laying out of material;
    • providing public access services such as newspapers and reference material; and
    • providing well stocked fiction/non-fiction book services.
  • Civic Library customers, during the focus groups, expressed the following specific comments about their preferences for an ideal library…
  • “I prefer a library to have a modern look and feel. Civic Library currently has a shabby overtone in its interior and books on shelves that look old. I would want a library which has a lot of choices and options, and to provide privacy rooms for group meetings.
  • (Female, 33 years, public sector manager, user of Civic Library)
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“In my ideal library I want friendly, welcoming staff who know how to use the library systems.”

(Female, 40 years, home duties, user of Civic Library)

“Compared to the current set-up at Civic Library I prefer to have an internet area where people cannot continually walk behind you and watch what you are doing. This is threatening, not only because you lose privacy, but also because you worry about your personal items being stolen.”

(Male, 52 years, sole trader business person, user of Civic Library)

“I prefer a library to have internet terminals in a separate internet room to give privacy, as well as a quiet study area for reading and study. Fast check-in and fast check-out arrangements are also preferred for booking internet services and undertaking book loans.”

(Male, 34 years, disability pensioner, user of Civic Library)

Current users of Civic Library expressed the following thoughts in their private questionnaires about the services and facilities they desired in an “ideal” library…

“Privacy is a key expectation I have in my mind for an “ideal” library. For example, the current internet and word processing facilities at Civic Library are excellent, but they are not private. I mean the placement of internet terminals should be in such a way as to minimise passing transit traffic behind you. My “ideal” library should also have private reading spaces so that people reading or using internet facilities are not readily viewed upon by people passing by.”

(Male, 52 years, sole trader business person, living in Civic, regular Civic Library customer)

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“My ideal library is light, airy, spacious and calm with relaxing areas mixed with more vibrant spaces. Having up-to-date technology is also important, including DVD loans. Having a mix of study desks and comfortable reading chairs is also an important design.”

(Female, 33 years, public sector executive working in Civic,

regular user of Civic Library)

“Having internet rooms, private study areas, “customer friendly” computer catalogues of the library holdings, a newspaper reading area, and helpful staff are what I expect in my ideal library.”

(Male, 36 years, disability pensioner, undertaking volunteer work in Civic,

regular user of Civic Library)

“In my ideal library I would have more internet computers available, separate discussion group rooms, self service loans, private reading lounges and desk areas for working, and an electronic catalogue search facility so that you can search book and library holdings in the library and order loans.”

(Female, 17 years, waitress working and living near Civic,

regular user of Civic Library)

The general conclusion to draw is that having a modern look and feel in library design supported by modern internet technology and privacy spaces for people using internet and library reader services, and casual lounge and desk study and reading areas are important features that current users of Civic Library expect in a library.

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  • Canberra residents living or working in or near the Civic area who do not use Civic
  • Library - non-users of Civic Library commented that an “ideal” library would need the following
  • features to encourage them to visit:
  • having beanbags and comfortable lounge chairs spread out around the library to allow
  • casual seating to sit and relax to read books, reference material, and newspapers;
  • having a modern, comfortable interior design;
  • having an extensive range of magazines for reading and reference;
  • having good quality computer printers to print material from the internet;
  • having fast, efficient loan material check-in and check-out systems (such as electronic self
  • registering systems) to minimise queuing waiting times;
  • providing access to expensive business textbooks and other reference books which are
  • regularly up-dated; and
  • providing efficient electronic “customer friendly” cataloguing systems available for library users which
  • give fast access to books and other loan material so that not too much time is wasted at the library for
  • busy people.
  • Comments expressed during the focus groups by Canberra people who don’t use Civic Library made the following comments about their “ideal” library expectations…
  • “In my ideal library I would want comfortable chairs and beanbags spread out in reading areas, and lots of magazines available. Having modern computers for internet access and good quality computer printers to print out information are also necessary.”
  • (Male, 28 years, lawyer, working in Civic, non-user of Civic Library)
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“Having fast access into and out of the library is necessary for busy people when they are undertaking loans from a library, because you don’t want to waste time waiting in a queue. I also would like my ideal library to be a source of expensive business information references.”

(Male, 30 years, marketing executive working in Civic area, non-user of Civic Library)

“In my ideal library I would want comfortable chairs to sit and relax during lunch-time, as well as a fast service if you were undertaking book loans. You want to be able to get in and out of a library fast.”

(Typical comment expressed by women aged 25-35 years who were employed full-time in secretarial/executive positions in Civic, and were non-users of Civic Library)

“I would want a library which is modern, large and open, with lots of resources and high tech IT services and facilities and audio-visual equipment.”

(Male, 22 years, white collar employee in Civic, non-user of Civic Library)

Non-users or irregular users of Civic Library gave expression to the following thoughts in their private questionnaires about their “ideal” library…

“My “ideal” library is a large library that is very open, but still offering plenty of private areas, and having facilities which are up-to-date and well maintained.”

(Male, 22 years, CIT student, irregular user of Civic Library)

“My “ideal” library would be overloaded with books. Like a casino where you walk in and the area is overloaded with poker machines. There should also be places to rest and read in the library, and an area presenting contemporary art.”

(Male, 29 years, public sector executive, living near Civic, irregular user of Civic Library)

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“My ideal library would be open, airy and have a good range of books. It should also be a friendly place with friendly staff. It would also have audio-visual and computer services, a modern catalogue, and private quiet reading areas, and group study rooms.”

(Female, 23 years, public sector executive working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“Having a location near bus services is important. The library should also have an easy to use reference guide. Facilities should include a lounge area, comfortable chairs for reading or writing on tables and coloured feature walls.”

(Female, 23 years, public sector executive working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“I would expect helpful staff to give advice and systems which allow you to use the library quickly.”

(Male, 30 years, marketing manager working in Civic, irregular user of Civic Library)

“My ideal library would have beanbags in areas where you can relax and read. Also areas with lots of internet computers, lots of magazines, and computer printer facilities.”

(Male, 26 years, lawyer working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“My ideal library would be in a good location such as a large shopping centre and would have on-line ability to locate books and allow you to make an order, and to collect later. The library should also have internet facilities and reading corners.”

(Female, 39 years, part-time waitress working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“I would want a good range of books, DVD’s and CD’s. The library should also have a help desk and newspaper reading areas.”

(Female, 29 years, casual waitress living and working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“In my ideal library I want desk space to work, systems which make it easy to find what you need, friendly and helpful staff, and a library with natural lighting.”

(Male, 25 years, new ACT resident arriving from Brisbane six months ago,

living and working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

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  • “My ideal library would be light and airy with lots of internet computers and study area sections.”
  • (Female, 28 years, UK resident recently arrived in last 6 months to live and
  • work long term in Canberra, lives near Civic, does not use Civic Library)
  • “My ideal library would be “spacey” and not closed in. There should be wide walkways, study tables, one or two closed off study rooms, and a comfortable area with couches and beanbags.”
  • (Male, 21 years, labourer, living and working in Civic, has not used Civic Library)
  • The conclusion to emerge amongst non-users of Civic Library is the key features in a library which might attract interest is having modemity in interior design and fast, customer friendly Library catalogue systems and fast self loan check-in and check-out services.
  • Overseas backpackers living and working in Canberra - in terms of backpacker visitor
  • preferences for an “ideal” library the following emerged:
    • having friendly staff and good, internal lighting;
    • having a separate room or enclosed area to provide internet and DVD services; and
    • having a separate room or separate area with lounge chairs and seats and tables for
    • private reading, particularly reading travel references to assist their world trip.
  • “Ideal” library services and facilities suggested by overseas backpacker visitors are illustrated by the following comments during the focus group discussions…
  • “I would want at least one separate room with reference books and tables and chairs, and all modern services such as availability of newspapers to help you keep up to date and the internet to send messages to friends and family and to search web-sites to research other places to visit.”
  • (Female, 28 years, backpacker visitor to Canberra living in Civic, user of Civic Library)
  • “I would want in an ideal library internet access, private reading desks, and a computer catalogue of the books held by the library.”
  • (Female, 18 years, UK backpacker visitor to Canberra living in Civic, user of Civic Library)
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Backpacker visitors to Canberra also expressed the following views in their private questionnaires on their “ideal” library services and facilities…

“As a library user I would expect friendly staff and having seating at the end of each bookshelf. As a traveller I look for Yellow Pages directories, a large reference section and maps.”

(Female, 28 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has used Civic Library)

“Having lots of internet computers, having private reading desks, and having a large selection of magazines and CD’s to borrow would be ideal. Having an electronic catalogue is also important.”

(Female, 18 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has used Civic Library)

“My ideal library would have great, friendly staff, having desks spaced apart, having bright interior colours, quiet areas for reading, and computers having individual tables.”

(Female, 26 years, Canadian backpacker visitor living and working in Civic,

has occasionally used Civic Library)

“I would want modern material, and internet and audio-visual material. The library should also have a youthful, modern look with lounge areas, and perhaps a café or coffee lounge area.”

(Male, 26 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has not used Civic Library)

Amongst backpacker visitors to Canberra the general conclusion to emerge is the need for library services which are friendly, modern and bright, and which offer internet and travel reference services.

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  • During the focus group sessions the participants also completed private evaluation assessment questionnaires to identify against a prompted list of possible “ideal” library concepts their positive or negative reactions. The following outcomes emerged:
    • having disable access – over nine in ten participants rated as “very important”;
    • having fiction/non-fiction book collections – eight in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having internet services – over nine in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having a daily newspaper reading service – over six in ten rated as “very important”,
    • having and audio reading/DVD facilities and loans available – almost two in ten rated as “very
    • important”;
    • having business reference services – almost four in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having language learning services – over three in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having ACT Government publications available – over three in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having reading areas – eight in ten rated as “very important”;
    • having photocopier facilities – eight in ten rated as “very important”; and
    • having public toilet facilities – eight in ten rated a “very important”.
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  • Conclusion
  • Both users and non-users of Civic Library tended to express similar expectations about what they would want in their “ideal” library. These expectations were:
    • for the library to have a modern design, and look and feel;
    • for library internet services and DVD and other audio-visual services to be based on modern high
    • technology with computer printer services available;
    • for seating areas to be placed in areas (or separate glassed enclosed rooms) which provide a
    • mix of comfortable lounge style seating and writing tables and chairs (which allow easy writing
    • ability and ability to spread out reading material being read or examined);
    • for internet areas and DVD and other audio-visual facilities to have partitioned workstations
    • set-ups so that privacy is provided from nearby people and from public library traffic and
    • movement of people;
    • having at least one group room provided which allows small group sessions to be conducted as
    • needed away from the quieter areas of the library;
    • for contemporary newspapers, magazines and reference material (including business
    • references) to be provided;
    • having well stocked fiction/non-fiction book services; and
    • providing fast, efficient loan material check-in and check-out systems (such as electronic self
    • registering systems) to minimise queuing waiting times, and support this system with efficient
    • electronic “customer friendly” library holdings cataloguing systems to assist busy people to find
    • relevant library material and to not waste time while at the library.
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CURRENT CIVIC LIBRARY USER AND POTENTIAL USER ASSESSMENTS OF POSSIBLE “IDEAL” LIBRARY CONCEPTS

The final stage of the focus groups had the participants being exposed to visual concepts of possible “ideal” library concepts. Fourteen (14) visual concepts using photographic images of library concepts were presented for evaluation. The purpose was to assist decision making to undertake the design of the Civic Library development. The following key findings emerged:

CONCEPT 1: “Checkout your own material” – this concept present electronic technology which allows library borrowers to quickly and automatically checkout borrowed library items. A mixed response outcome emerged but overall eight in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaires. While most people were positive about a library having such a concept concerns were raised that some people will encounter difficulties, or the technology may be unreliable. Consequently, it was felt that back-up human librarian services should be readily available to overcome any difficulty quickly experienced by library customers.

CONCEPT 2: “Lounge chairs and seating and desks presented in a comfortable nook area within the library” – this concept received positive responses as long as it was limited to 2-3 lounge seats and a writing table and seating for 4-6 people to avoid noisy discussion occurring in the nook area. Eight in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 3: “Bookshop type of displays to encourage borrowing of a CD or DVD” – this concept received positive responses as long as it did not take up too much space within a library. Increasing the height of the display shelves from 1 metre to 2 metres was also suggested. Nine in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 4: “Comfortable seating and good lighting” – this concept received positive responses. The lounge seating shown in the visual concepts suggested “spaciousness”, and having good lighting in a library was a feature that many people expected. Eight in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 5: “A newsagency style of display presenting a great selection of magazines” – this concept received positive responses because it allowed people to see the full range of magazines presented and to choose their selection. Eight in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

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CONCEPT 6: “A library design which provided lounge chairs and table for a quiet place to read and three tables in a circle with computer screens to access the internet” – this concept was not rated highly because the lounge chairs and internet area seemed too exposed to people walking past, and this visibility made many people feel uncomfortable. Only six in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 7: “An image showing a large range of library services – “something for everyone”: newspapers, videos, magazines, audio books” – this concept was positively rated (eight in ten participants gave a private positive rating) because it suggested a comprehensive range of library services which many people expected from a library.

CONCEPT 8: “Internet services arranged in rows of partitioned workstations, each with an individual private nook” – this concept was rated very highly because it provided internet user privacy and a perception of an effective use of space. Nine in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 9: “Lounge chairs and coffee tables set out comfortably in a spacious area” – this image rated positively (eight in ten participants gave a private positive rating) although caution was mentioned to ensure that the lounge chairs and coffee tables were not placed too conspicuously in open space areas. Again, the concern expressed was the dislike of sitting in an area which was too exposed to public view.

CONCEPT 10: “Having a library presented as an interior design using modern, bright, colourful space” – this concept was rated very highly. Many comments were expressed that such an interior design for a library was “welcoming”. Eight in ten participants gave a private positive rating.

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CONCEPT 11: “Having specific sections of the library set aside for specific categories of people such as a youth space” – this concept was disliked. Less than six in ten participants expressed a positive rating in their private questionnaire. Comments were expressed that some users of a library may feel uncomfortable if they sat in a library area which was not relevant to them, for example, an older person sitting by mistake in a “youth space”. Many comments were expressed that if such “thematic zones” were adopted within a library the theme categories should instead be adopted using “functional zones”, such as a zone for “students”, rather than “socio-demographic zones” such as a “youth space”.

CONCEPT 12: “Having computer game machines” – this concept was highly disliked by all participants. Less than three in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire. Having computer game machines with their noise and potential for attracting a noisy crowd of young people watching and playing was felt to be inappropriate for a library.

CONCEPT 13: “Internet areas with three people per open long desk but also having high wall screens shielding view from adjoining players” – this concept received positive ratings but suggestions were made for having more privacy between the three internet users using each long desk. Only six in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

CONCEPT 14: “Having bright, colourful feature walls and dividing walls” – this concept received positive ratings and was judged positively for projecting a modern feel within a library. Over seven in ten participants gave a positive rating in their private questionnaire.

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  • Further discussion with the focus group participants also identified the following responses to other possible library design issues. These were
    • whether or not a separate group meeting room is required in a library
    • …strong support was given to the idea of libraries having separate rooms for group meetings or for study groups. Suggestions were also made that in designing such group meeting room facilities it would be preferable to have glass internal walls, rather than full opaque walls. Illustrative comment is expressed below…
    • “Separate rooms for study groups or meetings are worthwhile because it helps take group noise out of the main library area. A good option is also to have glass walls because it makes the area seem like an active part of the library”.
    • whether it is worthwhile for a library to have limited seating or no seating at all
    • …the design concept of having no seating or limited seating in a library was highly disliked (despite the fact that some libraries in Australia are designed this way). Illustrative comment is shown below…
    • “No! The idea of having no seating is awful. It creates an “express library” and I don’t like it!”
    • “This would be a negative idea. It would make a library too much like a bookshop. A library not having chairs available is not an appropriate idea.”
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  • in libraries with limited floor space (as will occur with the re-developed Civic Library) whether
  • or not having a two day internet/telephone ordering service is worthwhile
  • …once focus group participants understood that the Civic Library re-development at ACTEW AGL House would have less space than the current space available at Civic Library there was support to have a two day internet/telephone ordering service for books, DVD’s, and other library products if this meant sufficient space could be made available for having internet and DVD services and lounge seating and chairs and tables for writing. Illustrative comment is shown below…
  • “I would support such a trade-off if the two day ordering service for library services was efficient. A public communication process will also be required to make people aware of such a customer friendly service at Civic Library”.
  • “Having a two day internet or telephone ordering system is necessary for a small library if book holdings have to be sacrificed for having sitting space, tables and study rooms.”
  • More findings are presented overleaf.
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  • CURRENT CUSTOMERS OF CIVIC LIBRARY expressed the following comments about the visual concepts presented to the focus group participants…
  • “Bright colours in a library are very positive, but I would avoid any circular arrangement of internet desks. It lacks privacy.”
  • (Male, 52 years, sole trader businessperson, living near Civic, regular Civic Library user)
  • “I would want friendly and helpful staff, good catalogues, and a variety of media. Audio booths and seating amongst shelves would also be a good layout, and self service borrowing. Having comfortable seating and study booths are necessary. Having a coffee shop would also be a good feature.”
  • (Female, 40 years, home duties, regular Civic Library user)
  • “Including coffee machine areas should also be considered in a library.”
  • (Female, 33 years, public sector executive working in Civic, regular user of Civic Library)
  • “A bookstore type of display for CD’s and DVD’s is an excellent idea as long as space in the library is not lost. Having effective, private spaces for an internet area is also important.”
  • (Female, 40 years, home duties, regular Civic Library customer)
  • “A bookstore type of display for CD’s and DVD’s is an excellent idea as long as space in the library is not lost. Having effective, private spaces for an internet area is also important.”
  • (Female, 40 years, home duties, regular Civic Library customer)
  • BACKPACKER VISITORS TO CANBERRA living and working in Canberra made the following comments about the visual library concepts presented…
  • “Self checkout library loans are quite effective, but they shouldn’t replace librarians. Some library users want contact with a librarian, and other people are not computer literate and advice in a non-electronic form must be freely available for such customers.”
  • (Female, 28 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has used Civic Library)
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  • “A circular arrangement of internet computers as shown in Concept 6 is not effective because there is no privacy at the computers. Having privacy at computers is important.”
  • (Female, 18 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has used Civic Library)
  • “My personal choice would be a library concept which has a modern look and feel, with good seating areas.”
  • (Male, 26 years, UK backpacker visitor living and working in Civic, has not used Civic Library)
  • NON-USERS AND IRREGULAR USERS OF CIVIC LIBRARY made the following private assessments of the visual library concepts presented for evaluation…
  • “The idea of having a circular internet area is not effective. It would be better to have a more closed, private area.”
  • (Male, 22 years, CIT student, irregular user of Civic Library)
  • “Self checkout of loans is a good idea as long as it works, and is easy to do.”
  • (Female, 23 years, public sector executive working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)
  • “The best feature concept presented was the modern, colourful, trendy interior design.”
  • (Female, 23 years, public sector executive working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)
  • “The library concept I liked best is the electronic system which provides a quick way to registering your book loans so that you are not waiting around.”
  • (Male, 30 years, marketing manager working in Civic, irregular user of Civic Library)
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“Having an electronic self checkout would be a very effective idea, however, it should be supported by having an actual librarian available if help is needed.”

(Female, 39 yeas, part-time waitress working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“A modern interior design with colourful walls does make a library look attractive. But I would not include game playing machines in a library because it will bring in uncouth people. Also there is also a need to have a human librarian available to help people who don’t know how to work self-checkout loan systems.”

(Female, 29 years, casual waitress living and working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“The modern interior design and colours look attractive. It makes the library look attractive. The self checkout of loans is OK but staff should be available to help people if needed.”

(Male, 25 years, new ACT resident arriving from Brisbane six months ago, living and

working in Civic, does not use Civic Library)

“If modern, colourful interior designs are used in a library then they should not clash with older style shelves and other colours. Self checkout is also a good idea as long as it is clear to library users that assistance is available.”

(Female, 28 years, UK resident recently arrived in last six months to live and

work long term in Canberra, lives near Civic, does not use Civic Library)

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  • Conclusion
  • Evaluations of possible new library concepts to employ in the re-development design of Civic Library identified strong consumer demands for:
  • having modern internet and DVD viewing areas which gave space and privacy to users;
  • having interior designs projecting a feeling of modern, light and airy, comfortable design; and
  • providing a mix of lounge chairs, coffee tables, writing tables and seating, and enclosed glass group meeting
  • rooms which gave privacy and reduced noise.
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