Public Library Core Customers are All Over the Map

March 28th, 2016

Public Library Core Customers Are All Over the Map

New Study of Core Customers Demonstrates Library Reach, Relevance, and Resilience

LAS VEGAS, NV—March 29, 2016— The first public library industry report to combine “big data” on library use with market segmentation data shows that public libraries have strong, stable and consistent use by core customer groups who come from all walks of American life.  The data show that public library core customer demographics mirror the unique, hyperlocal diversity and complexity of U.S. metropolitan areas.

The research analyzing data from ten public libraries was conducted by the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District in conjunction with CIVICTechnologies and funded by a 2014 National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The executive summary and full report, Core Customer Intelligence:  Public Library Reach, Relevance and Resilience, are available at

The analysis for this study integrated 67.4 million checkout transactions of 4 million library cardholders in ten public libraries who serve 7.8 million people in urban, suburban, exurban and rural locations.  Library cardholder and checkout data, market segmentation data and demographic data used in this research was provided by CIVICTechnologies, via their online planning application CommunityConnect, and ten libraries:  Anythink Libraries, CO; Brown County Library, WI; Denver Public Library, CO; Houston Public Library, TX; King County Library System, WA; Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV; Omaha Public Library, NE; Pierce County Library System, WA; Skokie Public Library, IL; and Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, KS.

Core customers in the study are defined as the most active and high volume cardholders with a high frequency or volume of checking out physical library materials.

According to Danielle Milam, director of development, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District (LVCCLD) and the grant project director, the goal of the study was to learn about the people who are loyal library customers today.  The findings show that public libraries have broad and diverse community reach – library core customers are literally all over the map.

The data also reveal surprising and substantial alignment between the unique distribution of market segments in the general population and the market segments that make up the core customer base in each community.  “We learned that relevance is local.  We now have a tool to strategically guide our work to keep libraries relevant to diverse populations in every community.  We know more about their lifestyles and what makes them tick.  Customer data is incredibly powerful information for libraries who want to keep core customers and attract new customers as the business of public libraries shifts to new digital formats.  This information is critical as we develop the next generation of library services while still holding down the traditional world of book and media transactions,” said Milam.

This report starts an industry dialogue about customer intelligence and the ways libraries can use customer intelligence to adapt and respond to change.  Case studies show how public libraries are using core customer data for strategic planning, targeted marketing, facility siting, launching service innovations, partnership development and community engagement.

“Overall, libraries participating in this project are using core customer and market segment analysis tools to better understand their most active customers’ borrowing behaviors and to grow market share among all local population segments,” said Marc Futterman, president and CEO of CIVICTechnologies. “These libraries have been able to shift organizational strategies away from broad attempts to be all things to all people toward more effective and efficient strategies, tailored to local customers and local community challenges. As libraries move away from being repositories for things and into new roles as places for human interaction, expression and creativity, market segmentation data helps libraries adjust to change and remain current.”

Click here to download a PDF of this press release.



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