The Research Habits of Public Library Users:
Are You Meeting Their Needs?

3 min read

Consumer behavior studies, industry stats and eBook usage reports reveal what people want from their libraries, how and what they’re researching, and what libraries are doing to meet the growing (yes, growing!) demand for credible, cross-searchable nonfiction eBook content.

  • More than half of today’s public library users say they visit the library to research topics of interest1—and what’s of interest is often history, self-help, cooking, health and fitness, business and careers, hobbies, general reference, how-to and DIY projects.2
  • In fact, “to do research and use reference materials” is second only to quality time with grandkids (aw!) as a reason for increased library time—ranking higher than borrowing books and using computers.3

Other than databases, nonfiction eBooks are a primary resource libraries use to meet the needs of these researchers. Today, 95% of libraries offer eBooks, 26% of which are nonfiction.4

We know that research matters to today’s public library users, and we know that libraries are expert in selecting the content they need—so the reports and studies should be all good, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Today’s most popular eBook platforms are not designed to deliver a research experience, leading to ease-of-use rising to the top of the list on why patrons don’t use eBooks more.5

  • Users struggle with complicated sign-in and download procedures, 6:1 holds-to-copy ratios and needing to know in which title to look for their answer.6
  • For users trained by years of Internet searching to expect quick access to relevant answers, eBook platforms designed around browsing a full catalog and checking out an individual title to read cover-to-cover don’t quite meet the need.
  • At the same time, libraries struggle to stretch flat or declining materials budgets across an increasing number of formats and to generate awareness of these resources through promotions and by integrating content with programs.7

If, like many libraries, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of your community, these facts may not surprise you. What many library professionals do find surprising is that an eBook platform already exists to help you overcome the challenges typically associated with usage.

The librarians’ choice for nonfiction eBooks“GVRL allows people to be
You can deliver many of the most-requested nonfiction eBooks on GVRL, a search-optimized platform that gives users unlimited simultaneous access to a hassle-free eBook experience—anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

That’s not to say GVRL aspires to replace popular platforms like OverDrive or 3M, which are great for fiction, biography, memoir and other genres. But when it comes to nonfiction content like self-help, how-to, cooking, health, science, travel and many of the other most researched topics, Gale’s platform delivers a better user experience.

See more revealing facts and figures about why Research Matters, and that how you research matters, too. GVRL. Do your research

1, 3: Pew Internet & American Life Project, January 2013,

2, 4, 5: Ebook Usage in U.S. Public Libraries, Library Journal, 2014.  (Request copy here: Jordan 1 Retro High OG “First Class Flight” White/Dynamic Yellow-Black

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