Project Description

Data Orchard was commissioned by Herefordshire Council to research preferences and patterns of use of libraries and customer service centres across the county.

The research sought to understand more about why some people don’t use libraries and customer service centres, and what might encourage them to do so. It also explored all possible options for change and the impact they might have on the future of library and customer service centres.

The research included a brief literature review into reasons for lapsed use of libraries and what would encourage use; which informed the design of consultation with non-current users of libraries.

Over 2,200 people responded to the public consultation on the future of libraries and council customer services that Data Orchard ran for Herefordshire Council. We used a range of techniques to ensure a broad range of people could give their views, from regular library users to lapsed or non-users. These included not only online surveys,  paper surveys in libraries and face to face interviews in centres, but also ‘on-street’ surveys to capture non-user views.

The results of the consultation were available in time for elected councillors to make informed decisions about the future of libraries and available to view on the council website.

Natalia Silver, Assistant Director for Communities at Herefordshire Council said:

“The work conducted by Data Orchard was incredibly important in providing the council with a range of evidence to make decisions on the future use and direction of customer services and libraries.  The information became an essential component of the needs and equalities assessment to understand current and future use of services.  The appeal of Data Orchard is that they worked with the council to really understand what was needed in the first place, but also bring a strong element of independence.  They were able to bring a range of skills and experience to the research based on creating the consultation, focus groups and desk research – of good quality and responsive to needs of the client”.