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The results of the 2016 User Survey

In November 2016 the German National Library, in conjunction with aproxima Gesellschaft für Markt- und Sozialforschung, conducted its first ever user survey. The objective was to obtain a corpus of data on user behaviour and visitor requirements regarding the services provided. The survey was divided into a number of topic areas:

  • Who are the users of the German National Library?
  • What is important for them regarding the offerings and services of the German National Library, and how satisfied are they with them?
  • How effectively can they work in the German National Library?
  • How should the German National Library communicate with its users?
  • What image do the users have of the German National Library?Wer sind die Nutzerinnen und Nutzer der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek?

There was a gratifyingly strong response to the survey: 1,942 questionnaires were completed on paper or online. A glance at the statistics shows that about 7 per cent of visitors took part in the survey, roughly 75 per cent of whom are annual cardholders and only 3 per cent of whom had purchased a day pass. Annual cardholders are thus disproportionately well represented, as they actually only represent about 30 per cent of all users, while nearly 50 per cent obtain day passes.
The results of the survey are outlined below. The detailed results and statistics can be found in the Presentation on the user survey (available only in German).

Who are the users of the German National Library?
The survey participants are disproportionately young (relative to the total population) and have an academic background. They live in the two location cities of Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main, became aware of the Library through tips obtained from friends or colleagues, and usually visit several times a month or more. By far the most popular services they use are the catalogue and the system for ordering books.

What is important for them regarding the offerings and services of the German National Library, and how satisfied are they with them?
Major "sources of satisfaction" are the extensive and readily accessible catalogue and the rapid delivery of ordered works. Users see room for improvement in the clarity of the hit lists, and in the opening times and usage fees. The Library has already taken on board the need to improve the clarity of the catalogue search results and is planning to present the first prototypes of a new catalogue interface in the near future.

How effectively can they work in the German National Library?
Users value in particular the good reading and working atmosphere in the reading rooms and the availability of free spaces. By contrast, the comfort of the seats – especially in Frankfurt – is merely rated average. In Frankfurt am Main, users would most like to see a lounge area which is separate from the refreshment facilities, whereas in Leipzig they would like to see individual workstations.
As before, most users prefer to read the books and magazines in printed form. The trend towards digital media can best be seen among online users. Classic laptops and computers with screens remain by far the most popular reading devices for digital media. There is need for improvement in the availability of electronic media in the Library's reading rooms. The German National Library regards it as its duty to provide its digital content as conveniently as possible within the copyright restrictions. As a first step towards achieving this, the reading room monitors used for accessing digital media works were replaced with larger screens in December 2016.
The Library staff are consistently rated 'good' to 'very good'. The friendliness and competence of the employees are singled out for especial praise. Users see room for minor improvements in the (nevertheless very positively rated) staff's solution-oriented attitude and the way in which they handle complaints

How should the German National Library communicate with its users?
The majority of respondents prefer to use traditional methods for contacting the Library. They favour face-to-face communication for complex matters, although they also use the telephone and e-mail. Users obtain the information they require from the German National Library via the website and from notices displayed in the buildings. Social media represent a niche channel for satisfying information needs.

What image do the users have of the German National Library?
The image of the German National Library and its services is mainly positive. Users regard the Library as an essential service and most appreciate its friendly image and the extensive, unique and well-maintained collections. They gave slightly lower ratings to its profile and modernity, and to the ease of access and availability of the holdings. Overall, 93 per cent of the respondents were "mostly" or "very" satisfied with the aspects of the German National Library covered in the survey.

Last update: 05.04.2017

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