Bradford MDC was undertaking a review of its library service to ensure an excellent service was continued to be delivered in light of the need to save money and encourage greater library usage. As part of this review, the council had undertaken research with library users. However, it wanted to engage with non-users of the library service in Bradford to explore how the services can be improved for current and future needs. Enventure Research was commissioned to conduct this research.
A combined quantitative and qualitative methodology was chosen for this research in order to provide both statistical validity, robustness and representativeness, and also depth of understanding. The quantitative element took the form of a telephone survey and the quantitative element involved a series of focus groups.
The telephone survey was conducted with a representative sample of 800 Bradford residents who had not visited a library in the area within the last 12 months. Six focus groups were held with library non-users, stratified by life-stage in order to gain a deeper understanding of why people might not use the library services available. An additional two focus groups were held with school children in Key Stage 3 and 4 at Titus Salt School to explore why young people may not use public libraries and find out what might encourage them to visit in the future.
Significantly low levels of awareness were found in terms of the full range of services offered by Bradford’s public libraries, and the main reason for not visiting libraries was found to be increased use of other facilities such as the internet and eReaders, meaning that many residents had fallen out of the habit of visiting their nearest library. Public libraries were seen as very important to the community, but non-users did not see libraries as a service that was important
to them. Suggestions were offered to improve Bradford’s libraries, and various priorities for the future were explored. It was strongly felt that the
libraries required increased promotion to the public to remind them of the services available which they may have forgotten about.
Benefits to Client
The findings of this research were used to inform the library services review and will be taken forward to shape a public consultation on the future of Bradford’s public libraries.