Realizing the importance of the environment and facilities in the public library, the Ministry of Education passed a four-year project entitled “Upgrading the Reading Environment and Facilities in the Public Library”("the Project", hereafter) in 2009 with the goal of providing a comfortable reading and life-learning environment to the public by improving the environment of the public library and combining it with the resources of the surrounding areas. This paper aims at evaluating the practical outcomes of the Project for the years 2009 and 2010 in terms of the execution of these libraries, and library patrons’ degree of satisfaction with library services and facilities.
The study is both a qualitative and quantitative investigation of the 77 libraries included in the Project for the years 2009 and 2010, by which time the upgrading of the reading environment and facilities had been completed. Among the 77 libraries, 76 directors (and librarians) of the 77 libraries were interviewed; library patrons who had been using the 77 libraries both before and after the improvements took part in a survey during the period between August 10 and October 7, 2011; a total of 5,369 samples were collected and validated.
The following conclusions are drawn from the analysis of the interviews and the collected samples:
1. Library patrons were more satisfied with five aspects of the public library, including library personnel, service, the collection, the facilities, and the environment, after the improvements than before.
2. Both of the frequency of visiting the library per library patron and the duration per visit to the library increased significantly.
3. Concerning improvements made to the public library, patrons were more satisfied with the following three areas than others: the children’s reading area, the restrooms, and the study area.
4. practical effects of the improvement project, mainly on the repairs to the exterior, the entrance, and the children’s reading area, matched the needs of library patrons.
5. “Improvement of the reading environment” elicited positive comments after the “Upgrading the Reading Environment and the Facilities in the Public Library” project was implemented.
6. After the improvement of the reading environment and the facilities, the library made appropriate changes to its “service policy” and “administration and patron services”.