January 19, 2022

Article: "Analyzing Public Library Service Interactions to Improve Public Library Customer Service and Technology Systems"


Analyzing Public Library Service Interactions to Improve Public Library Customer Service and Technology Systems


Holly Kristin Arnason
Edmonton Public Library

Louise Reimer
Edmonton Public Library


Evidence Based Library and Information Practice
Vol 7, No 1 (2012)


To explore the types and nature of assistance library customers are asking library staff for in a large Canadian urban public library system.

Methods – A qualitative study employing transaction logging combined with embedded observation occurred for three-day sample periods at a selection of nine branches over the course of eight months. Staff recorded questions and interactions at service desks (in person, by phone, and electronically), as well as questions received during scheduled and non-scheduled provision of mobile reference service. In addition to recording interaction details and interaction medium, staff members were also asked to indicate briefly the process or resources used to resolve the interaction. Survey data were entered and coded through thematic analysis.

Results – The survey collected 6,099 interactions between staff and library customers. Of those 6,099 interactions, 1,920 (31.48%) were coded as pertaining to technology help. Further analysis revealed significant library customer need for help with Internet workstations and printing.

Conclusions – Technology help is a core customer need for Edmonton Public Library, with requests varying in complexity and sometimes resolved with instruction. The library’s Internet workstations and printing system presented critical usability challenges that drove technology help requests.

Direct to Full Text Article (19 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.