Pima County Public Library Follows the Science

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Library science has uncovered new ways to understand library users and the way they interact with their libraries, and the research informs Pima County Public Library (PCPL)’s planning at many levels.

PCPL’s Youth Services Senior Librarian John Munoz talked about patrons: “The library is dedicated to all of its patrons, from 0 all the way up to end-of-life issues. The scholarship in library science is telling us… about how brains learn, people learn.” For instance, with “the youngest of our patrons, the 0 to 3, there are very special needs, and we try to address those with certain programs.” He said the library’s passion for innovative programs “began with the scholarship and the need to address different age levels with different programming.”

When the library’s Communications and Systems Department redesigned the library’s web site and databases, decisions were influenced by research that examined what brains do when people are looking at a web site, and how people use a web site. The library’s web site is especially important because “there are some people, users of our library, who never go into our library,” observed Mr. Munoz. “All they use are those databases or the e-books, and they just… go in to update their cards, which has to be done every three years to prove you are still living in Pima County, and that’s about it.”

When developing future plans, the library also considers new research into how libraries are used. “That really drives the administrators; it gives them the chance to look a couple of years into the future,” explained Mr. Munoz. “A big trend is a de-emphasized [print] collection, moving to something that is electronic. As that happens, people are getting their books from the public library on a device, and maybe they are just not going into libraries anymore. So we’re trying to fill the need for a community space, a place that people can go and learn together and participate in programs together, and even conduct their own programming.”


By Debbie Gubernick: debbie@gubernick.com