Lyon County Public Library Study

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Executive Summary

This report details the key findings of the study commissioned by the Marshall/Lyon County Library and completed by the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC). The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions and attitudes of the citizens in Marshall and Lyon County concerning the new proposed library. The study included research to determine if the citizens of Marshall and Lyon County are willing to personally help fund the new library. Also, the study identified the type of individual whom would be most likely to donate.

Most of the respondents from the survey visit the library at least once or twice a month. The majority of respondents, (95 percent) use their personal vehicle to get to the library, and 92 percent of the respondents agreed that the current library has inadequate parking. In fact, 93 percent of respondents agreed that the new library should have adequate parking. Other characteristics respondents stated the new library should have:

  • Children's Area
  • Inviting Feeling
  • More technologically developed facilities
  • Meeting Rooms
  • Study Rooms
  • One Floor

 

Most respondents indicated that their present job opportunity was the reason they came to the Marshall area. Since moving, they have found that Marshall is a small town which is safe and clean. Over 70 percent of the respondents have lived in the Marshall/Lyon County area more than 20 years. Seventy-two percent agreed that they perceive the downtown area to be Main Street, from the Varsity Pub northwest to the Wooden Nickel, and 90 percent think that the future growth of the city is occurring near South Main, around Wal-Mart.

Funding issues for the new library were also addressed in the study. Respondents could select several alternatives with the results as follows: 79 percent of respondents indicated the library should be funded by personal donations, 71 percent choose the City of Marshall's reserve fund, 67 percent said from the Lyon County reserve fund, and 54 percent said from major corporations in Marshall. Even though most respondents agreed the library should be funded through personal donations, 62 percent said they would not personally donate. Most respondents claimed having limited personal financial resources was the main reason why they would not personally donate to the new library. The largest group who claimed to have limited financial resources had an annual household income of $20,000 to $40,000.

Those respondents who see a need for a new library in Marshall tend to have more formal education than those who do not see a need. However, the respondents who visit the library most often and would be most willing to personally donate to the library, have either some college or a baccalaureate degree. Those who earn between $40,000 and $60,000 or who earn over $80,000 annually would be most likely to donate.

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Recommendations

  • The new library should have adequate parking, a children's area, an inviting feeling, meeting rooms, more technology, and book drive-thru.
  • The new library should be funded by a combination of major corporations in Marshall, public donations, and the city of Marshall and Lyon County reserve funds.
  • Target those with a baccalaureate, masters or doctorate degrees for personal donations.
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Conclusions

  • Regarding what attracted the respondents to the Marshall area, 43 percent indicated a job opportunity.
  • Over 50 percent would describe Marshall to a perspective resident as safe, clean, and a small town.
  • Most citizens of Marshall and the surrounding community consider "downtown" Marshall to be from the Varsity Pub northwest to the Wooden Nickel on Main Street.
  • The majority of respondents, 90 percent, feel the future growth in Marshall will occur on South Main Street around Wal-Mart.
  • Over 60 percent of the respondents visit the current library.
  • Of the respondents, 42 percent visit the current library at least 1-2 times a month.
  • Ninety-five percent of the respondents drive their personal vehicle to the library. Of that 95 percent, 83 percent either strongly disagree or disagree that the current library has adequate parking.
  • Regarding whether the current library has an inviting feeling when they visit, 43 percent of the respondents showed some level of disagreement that the current library does not have an inviting feeling.
  • Of the respondents, 83 percent feel the current library lacks adequate parking.
  • Over 60 percent would not personally donate money for new library. Of those, 63 percent would not personally donate due to limited personal financial resources.
  • Regarding what characteristics the new library should have, over 50 percent of the respondents indicated the new library should have adequate parking, children's area, inviting feeling, meeting rooms, and more technology.
  • Over 50 percent of the respondents indicated the new library should be funded by major corporations, public donations, city of Marshall reserve fund, and Lyon County reserve fund.
  • Thirty-six percent of respondents who visit the library are college graduates, and the majority of respondents who would personally donate to the library are also college graduates.
  • Those with a higher level of education recognize the need for a new library more than those with less education.
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Detail of Findings

Purpose
The Marshall-Lyon County Public Library was looking for the support of the community for the new library development project. Robert and Phyllis Carr were willing to donate two million dollars for the project if the library could raise two million dollars to match the Carr Family gift. The current library was built in 1967, and only served a population of approximately 6,600 people at that time. Now, the library serves over 21,000 people throughout most of Lyon County. Citizens actively involved with the library project are looking to relocate and build a one-story structure on a site suitable for that configuration with sufficient parking. To accommodate these characteristics, the most desirable location selected is next to the middle school. This location will support future expansion of the library and provide adequate parking. According to previous reports, "the new library will foster an environment of enduring values based on an awareness and appreciation for diverse cultures and perspectives."

Methodology
A moderator's guide was prepared by SMAC and used as a point of reference for the subsequent focus groups. The moderator's guide assures that basic subject issues are covered in the general direction of the discussions with the specifics being dictated by the nature of the ensuing focus group participants and their perceptions of the subject matter. Two focus groups were conducted and each group was made up of individuals with similar incomes and social backgrounds. The first focus group consisted of faculty from SMSU, while the second group consisted of staff from SMSU.

As a result of the focus groups, it was clear that the major concerns expressed were funding issues and whether or not a new library is considered necessary. The participants of the focus groups felt there is a need for a new library. From the information gathered in these discussions, it was clear that the survey should give conclusive evidence to how the citizens of Lyon County feel about the library project. Specifically, information about what they believe a new library should contain, and how the project should be funded was sought.

After creation of the survey instrument, it was tested for clarity and conciseness with actual participants. Once the participant had completed the survey, they were interviewed to determine if the questions were being interpreted correctly. The survey was revised and tested as many times as necessary to produce an unbiased, effective survey instrument. Three thousand copies of the final survey instrument and a cover letter explaining the purpose of the study were sent to a randomly selected sample of Lyon County residents. From this random selection, 510 surveys were returned for coding and analysis. These returned surveys represented 17 percent of the sample and is considered a high return rate for a generalized community survey. All returned surveys were entered into SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) which is a statistical analysis program that enables complete and accurate analysis of the data. Once the data was tabulated, both frequencies and cross tabulations were completed. Only those cross tabulations that were shown to be statistically significant are discussed in this report. All comments, whether made during the focus groups or in the comments section of the survey, have been included in Exhibit BBB.

Demographics of Respondents
In order to better interpret the results from the respondents, it is important to recognize the demographics of those respondents. The survey showed that 52 percent of the respondents were female (Exhibit A). Seventy-eight percent of the respondents were 46 years of age or older (Exhibit B). The majority of the respondents are married followed by those who are widowed, single, and divorced, respectively (Exhibit C). Most of the respondents surveyed had at least one or two people living in their household who visit the current Marshall library (Exhibit D).

Most of the respondents, 71 percent, were from the city of Marshall (Exhibit E). The majority of respondents had income levels of $80,000 or more with the next largest groups having incomes of $20,001-$60,000 annually (Exhibit F). This indicates that many of the respondents are working families.

There was an even split between the two largest groups of respondents with one being those with some college and the other group consisting of college graduates. These groups combined made up 54 percent of the respondents. The third largest group consists of those who are high school graduates (Exhibit G). A limiting factor with mail surveys is the lack of control over who returns the survey and under what conditions the surveys were completed. Although the surveys were randomly distributed, specific types of people are more prone to return them. Generally, those with stronger views on the subject covered by the survey are more prone to complete and return the instrument.

City of Marshall Perceptions
The survey included questions about what the citizens' perceptions were towards the city of Marshall and where they expected growth to occur in the future. Of the respondents, 73 percent have lived in Marshall or Lyon County for more than 20 years (Exhibit H). The majority of those responding were attracted to Marshall because of a job offer. Other important reasons for coming to Marshall were quality of life, other employment opportunities, and size of the town (Exhibit I). Most of the respondents perceived the city of Marshall to be safe, clean, and a small town (Exhibit J).

Since some initial debate transpired concerning whether the new library should be located in "downtown" Marshall, the survey instrument pursued the respondents' definition of the geographical area considered to be downtown. Seventy-two percent of the respondents consider downtown Marshall to be Main Street from the Varsity Pub northwest to the Wooden Nickel (Exhibit K). Of the respondents, the majority feel the future growth of Marshall will occur on South Main around the new Wal-Mart Supercenter (Exhibit L).

Library Perceptions
A majority of the respondents have visited the library (Exhibit M) with forty-two percent visiting the current library 1-2 times a month (Exhibit N). A vast majority (95 percent) of respondents travel to and from the current library by personal vehicle (Exhibit O). Some respondents indicated that they do not visit the current library due to lack of parking. Since the majority of respondents visit the current library and travel by personal vehicle, over 50 percent of the respondents felt the new public library should have ample parking. Additionally, it was felt by the respondents that the new library should also have a children's area, an inviting feeling and be more technologically developed (Exhibit P).

Funding Issues
When the respondents were asked how the new public library should be funded, over 50 percent said by major corporations in Marshall, public donations, and city of Marshall and Lyon County reserve funds (Exhibit Q). In contrast to public funding, 62 percent of the respondents said they would not personally donate (Exhibit R) with a majority of these stating limited personal financial resources as the reason (Exhibit S). Respondent Attitudes Current Library and new Library

Respondents were questioned regarding their attitudes about the current and proposed library. Respondents were asked to respond according to whether they strongly disagree, disagree, neither disagree nor agree, agree, or strongly agree. Statistically, the choice 'neither disagree nor agree' has been shown to be negative and will therefore be counted as a negative answer.

Forty-eight percent of respondents strongly agreed when asked if they felt the current Marshall-Lyon County Public Library fits the needs of the citizens (Exhibit T). A majority of respondents, 57 percent, agreed that the current library has an inviting feeling (Exhibit U). Regarding whether or not the current library measures up to the respondents' ideal standards, 43 percent either strongly agreed or agreed with that statement (Exhibit V). When respondents were asked if the current library has adequate parking, 83 percent either strongly disagreed or disagreed (Exhibit W). Forty-three percent of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the city of Marshall and Lyon County needs a new public library (Exhibit X). Exhibit Y shows that 43 percent agreed that the library should be on one floor only.

Comparisons
A cross tabulation was run between the Likert scale statement, "do you visit the current library," and level of education. College graduates (36 percent) and respondents with some college utilize the library more than respondents with masters or doctorate degrees (Exhibit Z). Even though those with masters and doctorate degrees seem to be less satisfied with the current library and see the need for a new one, they are not necessarily the people patronizing the library as much as other education classifications. However, when comparing the statement, "the current library meets the needs of its citizens" and their corresponding income level, the higher the income level the more the citizens either strongly agreed or agreed that the current library meets the needs of its citizens (Exhibit AA). When analyzed based on those disagreeing, income levels of $20,001-$40,000 (34 percent) felt that the current library doesn't meet the needs of its citizens (Exhibit BB). When combining strongly agreed and agreed, the income levels above $40,000, found that 51 percent of the respondents feel the current library fits the needs of its citizens (Exhibit CC). Next, each income level was compared to their corresponding level of agreement as to whether the current library fits the needs of its citizens. The majority of respondents (53 percent) with an annual income level of under $20,000 neither agreed nor disagreed (Exhibit DD). Respondents that fit into the income level of $20,001-$40,000 (45 percent) agreed that the current library fits the needs of its citizens (Exhibit EE). Again, 51 percent with income levels above $40,000 agreed that the current library fits the needs of its citizens (Exhibits FF, GG, and HH). Concerning the statement, "I feel that the current Library measures up to the ideal standards of what a library should offer," and the level of education of the respondents, it seems the more education a respondent had; the less enthused they were about Marshall's current library (Exhibit II). When combining strongly disagree and disagree into one category, the higher the education the less likely they felt the current library measures up to what an ideal library should offer (Exhibit JJ). The less education the respondent had, the more likely they felt the current library met what an ideal library should offer (Exhibit KK). The respondents with less than a high school degree (50 percent) were unsure of how they felt about the current library's standards (Exhibit LL). About 50 percent of high school graduates and respondents with some college feel the current library measures up to the ideal standards of what a library should offer (Exhibit MM and NN). While college graduates are split about 35 percent for both agree and disagree on whether the current library measures up to the ideal standards of what a library should offer (Exhibit OO). Lastly, 48 percent of the respondents that hold a masters or doctorate degree feel the current library does not measure up to the ideal standards of what a library should offer (Exhibit PP). Compare that to Exhibit QQ, which is a cross tabulation between level of education and the respondent's feelings towards the need for a new library. The respondents with a lower education feel that the city or Marshall and Lyon County do not need a new library (Exhibit RR). Again, the respondents with the higher level of education seemed to recognize the need for a new library more than the respondents with a lower level of education (Exhibit SS). However, just because a person has a high education level doesn't indicate that they utilize the library. Respondents with an education level of less than high school degree (50 percent) disagreed that a new library is needed (Exhibit TT). About 40 percent of high school graduates and respondents with some college feel there is a need for a new library (Exhibits UU and VV). Over 50 percent of college graduates and respondents that hold a masters or doctorate degree feel the same way (Exhibits WW and XX).

One of the issues brought up earlier in this report was funding for the new library. Many respondents indicated that the library should be paid for with public funding. A majority of the respondents also indicated they would not be interested in personally donating to the library. However, of those that said they would personally donate, a majority fell into the highest income bracket (Exhibit YY). The distribution for the education level of respondents who would personally donate to the new library looked very similar to the distribution of the cross tabulation concerning respondents who would visit the library and their education level (Exhibit ZZ). It may be concluded that those who patronize the library the most are those with some college or a college graduate and these people would be most likely to donate to the library. There appears to be a correlation between library usage, education level (to a point) and a willingness to donate to the library fund. The final comparison made regarding funding issues was between a question concerning reasons why respondents would not personally donate to the library and income level. The majority of those that chose limited financial resources as a reason why they would not personally donate were in the income bracket of $20,000 to $40,000 (Exhibit AAA).

All comments, whether made during the focus groups or in the comments section of the survey, can be found here. Click here to view the survey instrument used in the gathering of these results.

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Last Modified: 8/10/17 3:27 PM