New Bern-Craven County
Public Library

a member of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library System

Community Needs Assessment
for the
Public Libraries of Craven County

Complete Report available for download (PDF, ~1.8 Mb)

In January 2013, the library board of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library contracted with RB Software & Consulting, Inc., for a community needs assessment to ensure that the future direction of the libraries in Craven County is consistent with the needs of the communities being served by those libraries.

The project has been funded by the New Bern Development Board, which provides funding “for the purpose of purchasing, building or improving facilities designed for the educational benefit of the community residents in and around Craven County.”

The community needs assessment has been conducted by Dr. Robert Burgin, a library consultant with 38 years of experience in library education, library consulting, and library administration.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this community needs assessment is to ensure that the future direction of the libraries in Craven County is consistent with the needs of the communities being served by those libraries.

The assessment is based on demographic data for Craven County and its towns, library usage and funding data, surveys of county citizens and library staff, meetings with staff members and library board members, focus groups, and interviews with local community leaders.

The demographic data for Craven County reflect the fact that the county is relatively young, well educated, and wealthy, compared with the state as a whole.

Demographic trends show that the wealth of Craven County residents and the percentage of the population 65 and over has increased more rapidly than for the state as a whole. On the other hand, changes in education level and population growth in general have lagged that of the state.

The towns in Craven County vary widely with respect to levels of education, wealth, and age of their populations.

A survey of county residents found that respondents most frequently used the library for adult books, children’s books, and Internet access computers. Nearly half the respondents rated the library as excellent in meeting their needs, and two thirds rated the library’s customer service as excellent. The greatest number of suggested improvements dealt with books and computers.

A survey of library staff found that those individuals considered programs and books for children to be the most important library services. Most staff members felt that the library was doing a good job of meeting the needs of patrons.

Data regarding library usage and funding for the public libraries of Craven County show that the libraries rank high in the percentage of the population registered and program attendance per capita. The libraries rank near the bottom of the state’s libraries in terms of non-print circulation per capita and in the number of public Internet workstations per 5,000 people.

Focus groups, interviews with community leaders, and other meetings found strong support for books, computers and Internet access, children’s services, and an interest in ebooks and more space in the library facilities.

An analysis of the public library space needs for Craven County suggests that a reasonable target for public library facilities for Craven County for the next 20 years is 64,480 square feet, 62 per cent more than the amount of space allocated now. The analysis also found that a reasonable target for Craven County for the next 20 years is between four and six facilities.

The report finds that the public libraries in Craven County benefit from membership in the CPC Regional Library System by receiving assistance from regional staff, by sharing an integrated library system, and by taking advantage of the ability to borrow materials from any of the ten member libraries in the regional library system.

The report makes more specific recommendations for the public libraries in Craven County in each of the following areas:

  • Adult reading
  • Children’s services
  • Computers and Internet access
  • Facilities
  • Genealogy and local history
  • Integrated library system
  • Local funding and funding patterns
  • Marketing and advocacy

Complete Report available for download (PDF, ~1.8 Mb)