Ask your community about technology needs: The Impact Survey

The University of Washington Information School (iSchool) has launched the Impact Survey, a new survey tool designed to help public libraries assess how their communities use technology services at the library, and how it has had a positive impact on community member's lives. The survey asks patrons about technology use in the following areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, health and wellness, eGovernment, civic engagement, eCommerce, and social inclusion.

Asking for input can help you better understand your community, but finding time to write a survey can be challenging. The Impact Survey saves libraries the time and costs associated with writing, programming, analyzing, and reporting an in-house survey.  Written and validated by research staff at the iSchool, the Impact Survey is designed to quickly and easily provide busy librarians with useful data on how their patrons use library technology services. The online survey contains detailed questions about the benefits and outcomes of using technology services. It is estimated that it will take a patron approximately 10-15 minutes to complete the survey.

Data for Planning

Patron data can be invaluable for your library’s internal strategic planning. It can help you make smart decisions about allocating limited resources. The survey takes the guesswork out of understanding how patrons use computers, the Internet, and other technology services, what type of assistance they need, and how this access improves their lives. Listening to patrons helps ensure that libraries continue to provide useful, relevant, and meaningful services with positive outcomes for patrons.  Having data to compare from year to year can help libraries identify trends and evaluate performance and create improvement plans.

Data for Advocacy

In addition, data from the Impact Survey is a powerful advocacy tool. Reliable local data is critical when communicating with decision makers about the value of the library in the community. The Impact Survey provides librarians with hand-outs, reports, and presentations that are populated with analysis of their library’s unique results. These materials are ready to take right to community leaders, funders, and local decision makers.

Improve Your Library's Edge Score

Conducting patron surveys and communicating the value of public access technology to stakeholders are some of the key benchmark indicators of the Edge Initiative. Implementing a survey can help you achieve the benchmarks.

To Get Started

To learn more about the Impact Survey and how you can start implementing the survey at your own library, please visit The survey will be free until Oct. 1, 2014. After that date, libraries will be asked to contribute a small annual fee that will directly support maintenance of the Impact Survey and its services. Staff at the iSchool will be on hand from 9:00-5:00 Pacific Time, Mondays-Fridays for technical support and to answer any questions you may have.