Libraries focus groups

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Purpose Questions were raised at a community group meeting about the closure of both Rawtenstall and Haslingden libraries every Wednesday afternoon.The objective of the research was widened from not just considering opening hours, but to finding out how libraries in the area can best meet the needs of their customers by improving or changing the service. This enabled opening hours to be placed in the wider context of libraries and extracted the most value from this piece of research.
Subject Libraries
Commissioned by Ann Marsh, County Library and Information Service
Geographic area Rossendale
Method Focus group
Consultation with Life in Lancashire panel
Date 01/11/2004 - 30/11/2004
Undertaken by Corporate Research and Intelligence Team


Number in sample 26
Number of responses 26
Response rate 100%
Key findings Five focus groups were conducted in total covering two with staff, two with users and one with non-users.

To make the best use possible of the discussion groups the scope of the research was broadened to explore how the service could improve generally, making opening hours an integral part of this broader research.

The research provides the evidence to confirm what managers already suspected: that more in the way of effective, targeted marketing needs to be done to change the public perception of libraries. The process also gave staff in libraries the opportunity to contribute to the decision making process in a practical and constructive way.

The research gives the management team in Rossendale a flavour of public opinion on the specific issues around opening hours. This, combined with wider consultation through the press, will inform the decision making process.
Outcomes * More opportunities for local communities to take part in a wide range of events. For example, diversity days, story times for children of all ages and abilities, poetry events, digital camera programmes to capture the local community on film and save for posterity, and local history talks.

* Reading clinics for staff to talk informally to customers about books and reading.

* Greater publicity of library events. All events are now being reported in the free press.

* Different opening hours so that local residents have more access to libraries. For example, Waterfoot and Crawshawbooth libraries now open on a Saturday morning from 10 till 12, although not late night on a Tuesday. This means people can go to their library on three rather than two days a week. And Rawtenstall library has changed a late night from Tuesday to Thursday so there's access to a large library in the Rossendale area for one extra night a week.

These changes have happened with only a very slight budget increase.

Other proposals for Rawtenstall library that will need extra funding are a six-month trial of Sunday opening; and closing at 5pm one night a week, and re-opening between 6pm and 8pm for services specifically focused on young people.

We are now looking into alternative ways of funding these proposals.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Mike Walker
01772 533445

Mick Edwardson
01772 530290