This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

October 16, 2002 - Wanted: Non-Library Users

This is like the old joke: would all those people not here, please raise their hands?

The library is looking to do a special kind of focus group. In our jargon, it is a "non-user" study. In brief, we want to pull together at least two groups of ten people (one group of adults, one of teens) that do not use the library. That is, they don't have cards, they don't use our website, they don't stop by for meetings.

Then we want to ask these people, in their separate groups, to talk about how come.

There are several reasons for our curiosity.

First, like any other business, we want to improve our marketing. Library staff have a deeply held belief that we have something for everybody. But we are also aware that people are busy, too busy, sometimes, to find out about all the wonderful things going on in their own back yards. How can we get the word out better than we do now?

Second, also like other businesses, we need to know if there's some barrier to our services that we should be doing something about. For instance, is there a tremendous, pent-up demand for library service on Friday or Saturday nights? Do we need early morning commuter hours?

Third, we are deeply interested in trends. Public institutions, if they are to be worthy of the dollars invested of them, have to stay focused on their communities.

For example, we know that the rise of the Internet has had an effect on library use and services. But it's not the effect that some people predicted. We have found, and studies have shown both here and elsewhere, that when we added Internet terminals, all kinds of library use went UP.

That is, people came in to use the terminals, but found that this increased their interest in the world of print and video. They discovered the comfort and hominess of the environment. They met friends there.

But it's also the case that use of the Internet replaced some kinds of library use -- the quick answer kind.

But back to my request. If you, or someone you know, lives in a household where there are no active library cards, please call, or have them call either me, or my assistant, Patti Owen-DeLay, at 720-733-8624.

We're trying to set up the two focus groups on November 6. They will be held at the Highlands Ranch Library, although we're seeking representation from around the county.

The focus group for teens will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The adult focus group will run from 6:30 to 8:30. Participants will be paid, and will also get some snacks.

This is limited to residents of Douglas County, by the way.

So help us get out the word. When was the last time an organization offered you money to tell them why you weren't paying any attention to them?

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