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

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.

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GVRL Delivers What You Want from eBooks

By Pat Coryell

As the Vice President and Publisher over GVRL, I focus my time immersed in market research, customer feedback, and user testing data to best understand the gaps and pain points in today’s eBook landscape, as well as identify the gains Gale might deliver to our library customers and users.

I’m often in problem-solving mode, as we and our customers across academic, public, and school libraries, take on the many challenges involved with shifting to meet evolving user needs brought about by changes in student/community demographics, differentiated learning styles, and the introduction of new technologies.

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The New GVRL: Online eBook Browsing and More

Gale Virtual Reference Library GVRL

While uptake on eBooks has been phenomenally fast around the world, many users still long to see book content displayed in a traditional book format. Readers like the sense of “place” they experience on the printed page, the comfort of a familiar layout, and the reading breaks afforded by page turns.

The book-like online reading experience is prevalent across popular reading platforms, and user expectations have now translated to research eBooks as well.

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