From Place to Service: Repurposing Library Services

By Cory Poris Plasch, VP of Customer Success

Technology has changed the way local government operates in many ways in the last 20 years, but libraries are among the public services that have been most drastically impacted. Despite these changes, the average satisfaction rate for libraries, according to The National Community Survey (The NCS™), is over 80% positive for the last 15 years. 


Libraries fill many needs in communities, from traditional storytimes for young children to helping job seekers navigate job sites on the internet. As a public service, libraries even provide social services in some communities, working with other organizations to provide homeless populations assistance and community organizations space for a variety of purposes. Providing a “third space” in a time where digital communicating increasingly takes the place of in-person communication is a core library mission.


They need to be responsive to community needs in ways that are tailored to the communities they serve, and when a recession or other challenge hits, the free services provided become even more vital. But tapping into what those community needs are can be challenging, particularly in light of COVID-19, which has closed libraries to the public and left them scrambling to find alternate ways of communicating with residents with face-to-face contact off-limits.


The Altoona Public Library in Altoona, Iowa has been using Polco to reach out to the community and using the data to inform their long-range plan.  Director and Revolutionary Ringmistress Kim Keitzman says, “While libraries are overwhelmingly considered a positive public service, not everyone uses it. We frequently have a high level of support from non-users. Engagement is critical to meeting the needs of the community, leveraging the insight and support of non-users, and listening to those familiar with our services on how to improve them. Polco has been vital to our engagement on our new long-range plan, especially during a time when in-person focus groups are not possible.”

Want to find out more about how this innovative library is connecting with residents and planning for the world of COVID-19 (and beyond)?  Join us on November 18th at noon CT to hear Kim Kietzman talk about the data collection process, the response from residents, and how they have been able to use the data to plan for the future.


Read the rest of this month's issue of the Pulse here, featuring the COVID-19 Resident Readiness Survey & how Bloomington, MN is using Polco.