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Trip chains an important factor in library visits

Trip chain

Trip chains an important factor in library visits

Tagging on another activity to a trip to the library is an important factor for many visitors, according to new research from the University of Leicester.

The study, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), found that so-called trip chains – multiple activities in one outing, were an important consideration on visits to libraries. Dr Varina Delrieu and Dr Lisanne Gibson of the university’s School of Museum Studies were asked to look at the factors that ­influenced people’s visits to both libraries and leisure centres.

The results show that while proximity to home is an important factor to leisure centre users, for library users a different pattern emerges with people more ­likely to use a library if it is close to other ­facilities.

Dr Gibson explains that a visit to the ­library is often combined with other ­activities, whereas a visit to the leisure ­centre is seen as an activity in its own right. The study also found that ­libraries that can offer services tailored to local communities’ needs are more successful.

She said: “Our research shows that ­libraries which are close to other everyday leisure facilities, such as shops, are in the main more popular. However, regardless of their proximity to shops or transport, some ­libraries which offered targeted ­services for particular communities were successful in attracting those user groups.

“For leisure centres the picture was very different. Here we found that people ­attend regardless of a leisure centre’s proximity to other leisure assets; for leisure centres ­attendance was more a function of proximity to the home and the range of facilities and services on offer.”

The research findings have implications for both service delivery and decisions about where libraries should be situ­ated – especially when thinking about new ­facilities.

And while trip chains are an important factor in library visits, the research found that no difference in usage ­between standalone libraries and leisure centres compared to those that are co-located – either together or with other facilities.

Both library users and leisure centre ­users attach a personal opinion to the facilities they use, meaning it is not just proximity and services that drive usage. The research found that choice of library was generally influenced by multiple factors, including neighbourhood, to a greater extent than for leisure centres.

The results are free for anyone to access and the research is part of a wider AHRC programme to look at how public and cultural services are used. The report and others from the programme can be found here.

Published: 1 May 2018

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