Public libraries are often county government's most popular service.
In Dakota County, a recent resident opinion survey showed libraries trump parks and trails and claim an overall satisfaction rating of 84 on a scale of 100.
Now the library system wants to learn specifically what people like — and don't like — about the libraries. "We understand that we are popular, but we see that as a slightly different matter than the question: Does the public have specific areas of concern or suggestions for improvement?'' Dakota County Library director Ken Behringer said.
This year the library spent about $5,500 to subscribe to an online customer satisfaction survey provided by Counting Opinions Ltd. of Toronto. Library patrons can find a link to the survey on the library homepage, its catalog and its Facebook page.
So far about 150 people have followed the link and answered the survey.
To the question of what are you most satisfied with, a sampling of comments includes:
"Love being able to access the system from home.''
"The ability to order books and movies from other libraries.''
To the question of what are you least satisfied with, comments include:
"The lack of physical books to borrow.''
"There are not enough computers and the wi-fi is slow and weak.''
Traditionally libraries have measured their service by counting the number of people who visit the library, counting the materials checked out and more recently counting visits to the library Web page and the library catalog.
Now the library is "Counting Opinons.'' The service is so new. the library is not yet sure how it will use the information brought in, Behringer said.
Library circulation is trending downward and use patterns are changing, he said. "More of our resources are available electronically — often without even visiting the library. We hope public comments will allow us to monitor those trends and better keep pace with them in our planning and implementation.''