What You Told Us

August 12, 2011

George Eberhart

In April, we conducted an online survey of our readers, in order to find out what American Libraries is doing right and what we could be doing differently. A big thank you to the nearly 3,600 participants, who represented all types of libraries (public, academic, school, and special). You answered 31 questions about your preferred formats, and some 2,400 of you took the time to add comments to one or more parts of the survey, giving us some< helpful things to consider. Your input is and will be invaluable.

Although this was not a scientific survey, we learned many things about how you read, what you want and don’t want to read, and how you prefer to receive information. In the summary that follows, we’ve identified some of your more frequent comments and preferences.

In a nutshell:

  • 79% consider American Libraries and AL Direct essential professional reading.
  • American Libraries is rated high on reliability of information (90%) and relevance (65%).
  • AL Direct  is very highly regarded (“fabulous!” “gold!”) and considered very useful. It rated high on relevance and reliability (76%) and timeliness (88%).
  • 76% like to get their American Libraries content in print.
  • Print fans want the content to be focused on articles rather than time-sensitive news (which is AL Direct ’s specialty).
  • Mobile phone access is a key issue (36% say that’s how they like to access content). Tablets and e-readers follow close behind.
  • Many ALA members do not see a clear difference between the overall ALA website and the American Libraries website.
  • Most members access the American Libraries website through links in AL Direct.
  • The digital version of the magazine with page turns that we offer with each print issue was not widely known, but it did generate strong feelings about the technology on both sides of the issue. In general, it’s safe to say this is not a preferred format. Some asked for a PDF version of the magazine, unaware that this option is built into the technology we use.
  • In general, the message was that we can do more to distinguish the benefits and the features of our digital options.
  • We also received numerous suggestions for content coverage and will be implementing many of those in the future.

Thank you for your time and ideas! We are always pleased to hear from you, through surveys, email, Facebook, or Twitter.


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