The now-famous 2010 OCLC study, "Perceptions of Libraries" (oclc.org/reports/2010perceptions.en.html), provided us with some context for the concerns of our stakeholders. The study showed that the word most associated with libraries was "books." In fact, 75% of all respondents said that books were the thing they thought of first when they thought of libraries. In an age in which Google and Wikipedia are primary research sources for many and Amazon sells more ebooks than physical books, it is little wonder that our stakeholders would worry about the decline of an institution they primarily associate with paper books.
We surveyed our customers in spring 2012 to assess whether the OCLC study's findings would ring true in our district as well. Among the 25,000 respondents, 65% agreed that "books" was the word they would most closely associate with the library. Focus groups of community leaders took it a step further, informing us that they consider the library a great community resource, but it would be even more valuable if people recognized and understood the vastness of resources available.