Listening to the voice of users

One of the most important skills a librarian must have is the ability to listen to users.

The library service, sure enough, will be more effective and useful if it is built on the basis of the real needs of its users.

According to our Biblio research, CECO, the Community Engagement and Communication Officer job profile, will need transversal skills like listening actively and developing creative solutions to the community’s needs and will be a support figure for the design of services and activities based on this analysis.

During pandemic times, however, the voice of users is likely to be even weaker; exchanges with librarians are increasingly difficult, because most libraries are still closed to the public despite their importance as social and cultural strongholds.

For this reason, in December 2020 a public library user consultation initiative was launched in Italy by Associazione Italiana Biblioteche – AIB (Italian Librarian Association), Rete delle Reti and BIBLAB – Laboratorio di biblioteconomia sociale e ricerca applicata alle biblioteche of Università La Sapienza di Roma (Laboratory of Social Librarianship and Applied Library Research of Sapienza University of Rome).

The survey stems from the desire to keep public libraries in touch with their community.

The questionnaire investigates different aspects of users’ library attendance (how often they go, for what reasons), but above all it wants to know the feelings behind the choice of going there. Thus, at the end of the questionnaire users are asked “What is the library for you? What do you miss if it closes?” In this way they want to know the real needs of the people who frequent the library and understand how the library can contribute to the improvement of people’s lives.

The results of the survey will be presented on 26 February at the annual conference of Italian librarians Convegno delle Stelline.



Featured image by Jason Hazama; “white library” photo by Christian Wiediger – both on Unsplash