What is it about?

Public library branches are added to a library system over decades, designed by architects with different design philosophies. The use of each branch by its patrons are influenced by factors such as internal layout, accessibility, services provided, depth and breadth of collections, and the demographics of local neighborhoods. This paper explores the patron use of a community branch and a central branch of a Canadian urban library system using multiple information sources. The methodology described in this study can be adapted by libraries and researchers interested in studying the use of individual public library branches.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that each public library branch within a system is somewhat unique in its physical layout, its atmosphere or ambiance, the patrons that it attracts and patterns of use. Branch architecture, services, collections and patrons interact with each other. Such interactions are the result of deliberate decisions, unintended consequences, and the evolution of branches over time. A good understanding of how patrons interact with existing branches is useful when public libraries renovate or replace their existing branches.


This research project, at the request of a public library, challenged my personal perceptions of public library branches as interchangeable. It provided undergraduate university students with the opportunity to become involved in an original research study.

Faculty Member John D Shepherd
Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Does size matter? In-library study of two Canadian public library branches, Library Management, November 2019, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/lm-08-2019-0058.
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