In partnership with the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CIVICTechnologies completed the first big data study in the library world. This study investigated the "core customers" of ten public libraries: the customers who most actively checked out physical materials—books, DVDs and CDs. The purpose of the study was to obtain information and insights that help libraries retain these core customers and to reach and recruit new customers like them. Having detailed core customer intelligence—who they are, what they want, like and do—helps libraries stay nimble, adaptable, and relevant to customer and community needs, now and in the future.
This is the first industry report that uses “big data” to describe library core customers in great detail. To get to a detailed level of customer intelligence quickly, the ten participating project libraries, that together serve 7.8 million people, came together to analyze the transactions of 4 million cardholders and 67.4 million book and media materials checkouts. Each of the participating libraries had already joined customer and checkout data at the census block group level with market segmentation data from two geo-demographic based, nationally scaled, commercially available segmentation systems: LandScape (from Synergos Technologies, Inc. or STI) and Tapestry (from ESRI) on a planning platform called “CommunityConnect,” designed and managed by CIVICTechnologies.
Ultimately, this study raises as many important questions as it answers: How can libraries use the core customer information uncovered in this study to attract new library customers and to increase existing customer use? Will libraries be able to retain these core customers as formats shift from physical to virtual? Who are other groups of library customers that are active and loyal? How will libraries accelerate the adoption and use of this kind of customer data to stay relevant, nimble and valuable to the public?