Library news

December 2019

Library Survey

As part of the ongoing review of the Society' library and our collections surveys were made of those who used the library (and some of those that don't)

An online survey was carried out in August/September 2019 to collect views from both members and non-members regarding the collections (books, manuscripts, microfilm/fiche, digital, etc) held by the Society of Genealogists.  An in-house survey was also carried out at the library during the same period to establish what material was being used.

The online survey was completed by 566 people out of slightly over 8000 members and some newsletter subscribers.  In September 2019, just under 300 unique members (including staff and volunteers) and 28 non-members visited the library and 95 completed the in-house survey. A summary of the results and key learning are presented here. It should be noted that this presents the outcome of these surveys alone, remembering that this is just a sample and further surveys or other types of analysis will give further insights. It was unfortunate that the online survey did not ask whether or not the responder was a member of the Society of Genealogists as this would have provided an additional useful insight.

  • 10% of respondents considered themselves to be beginners, 56% intermediate and 34% advanced.
  • 55% lived within the Home Counties and 45% elsewhere in the UK or abroad.
  • 15% visited at least monthly. 18% had never visited.
  • The library is most valued for its unique material and being a one-stop library and archive.
  • Access to help and advice and the education programme also ranked highly.
  • The more experienced the user, the larger the range of record types that are used.
  • The most used record set is the parish registers (both the transcripts and original images), being frequently used by 80% of visitors.
  • In-house survey respondents overwhelmingly, and often exclusively, used the computer suite during their visits.
  • No one record set covered by the survey was perceived to be of no value.
  • There was no one data set that respondents wanted to be digitised preferentially.
  • SoG Data Online is used infrequently by the majority of users.
  • Many people are unaware of the content of SoG Data Online. There were a number of people who requested digitisation of datasets that are already available. Better publicity of which datasets are online is needed.
  • There is a need to improve user knowledge, help and education about the collections and how to find and use them.
  • A consolidated catalogue is the most requested improvement for making a visit easier.
  • The facilities (space to work, wifi, access to plugs, space to move, access to shelves - especially the higher ones) were ranked in the middle (ie not ‘very poor’ nor ‘excellent’).

The full analysis is available on the Society’s website here

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