Archived Story

What seniors are saying about the library [UPDATED]

Published 11:06am Thursday, August 30, 2012 Updated 1:06pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fergus Falls Public Library Renewal Task Force has hosted two focus group sessions (small group interviews) with community members ages 55 and up during the months of July and August.

During the sessions, Library Task Force and Board members asked participants about their experiences using the library, what needs they feel the public library serves in the community and how their library use has evolved or changed over the years.

Participants in the sessions were mainly library users but some former or non-library users also came to share their thoughts.

Many of the comments focused on the following topic areas: customer service, technology, access and marketing.

The majority of the individuals interviewed felt the library provides good customer service, commenting that they received “personalized attention” from “friendly staff.” One participant commented that when a librarian showed her how to download audiobooks onto her MP3 player her “whole world opened up.”

Others felt the library had become even more convenient and user-friendly because of technology like the online library catalog and downloadable ebooks and audiobooks.

Providing access to information in all of its forms was highlighted as a need the library fulfills in the community. Many also mentioned the value and quality of the programming the library provides, such as preschool storytime and the summer reading program, as fulfilling a vital community need. As one participant noted, “if children are brought up to read, they will continue to read.”

A number also referred to the library as a community asset that draws people to Fergus Falls.

When asked about the weaknesses of the library, both focus group sessions revealed the need for increased marketing of what the library offers. Some also mentioned that they wished the library had more audiobooks, books, and/or ebooks and added that they felt lack of space contributed to small physical collection sizes.

A number of participants mentioned that the items they came to the library looking for were often checked out or a library staff member had to order the item in from another library.

When asked about what they thought the library might look like in five years, ten years, etc., participants thought technology would continue to change how information is accessed, compiled and used and how the library operates. Some expressed concern with the fast pace of technological change, stating that “maybe in 10 years I will be able to get all these ‘techie’ things!” Some felt providing access to and instruction on technology and new technology tools would continue to shape library services into the future and, as one participant noted, the “library will grow with technology.”

The Library Task Force has a third senior focus group session planned for Monday, September 10 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms (216 S. Cascade St). Refreshments will be served. If you’re a senior in the Fergus Falls area, we would love to get your input on library service, and please consider bringing a friend.

Because it is important to keep the focus group sessions small in order to ensure everyone gets a chance to share their experiences and thoughts, the Library Task Force does ask that you contact me at 218-332-5776 or to express your interest and reserve a spot.

Future focus group sessions with community groups including families with young children, teenagers and others are also in the works. Watch this column and the library website for updates.

Thanks for reading and, as always, I look forward to seeing you at the library.


Erin Smith, Library Director, Fergus Falls Public Library


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