To empower libraries to better understand—and positively change—the way the public views them and to help libraries retain current library users, attract new users, and convert former non-users, this general review offers in-depth analysis of some of the most common desires and complaints expressed by 9,000 library users and non-users from across the U.S. over an 18-month period.

This collected feedback includes discussion of “active v. quiet” spaces and increased demand for co-working and business centers; improved access to centralized electrical outlets; alternatives to Makerspaces, such as digital creativity spaces and curated, circulating activity kits; and an eagerness for more streamlined, “personalized” marketing communications from libraries. Self-service holds, outdoor workspaces, and a strong preference for flip-through shelving are also discussed. Further, the authors demonstrate ways in which libraries can incorporate such public input effectively and affordably by redeploying existing resources, reconfiguring library facilities, and by implementing newly available products, technologies, and best practices.

It must be noted that, because not all public insights shared in this general review may be applicable to every library, libraries are also encouraged to seek out localized public input and to incorporate widely available, state-reported benchmarking data from other libraries—especially during and after employing new strategic planning. Guidance around gathering and acting upon localized feedback from library users and non-users, as well as guidance around the use of state-reported data are also provided.