Images and perceptions as barriers to the use of library staff and services by T. Green

Green, T. (1994). Images and perceptions as barriers to the use of library staff and services. New Library World, 95(1117), 19.

I am reproducing this article’s author-provided abstract here to facilitate the discussion.

The images and perceptions that individuals and library funders hold of libraries, library services, and the librarian profession in relation to effective use of libraries and the skills of librarians are discussed. It is argued that contributing factors to non-use and under-use are also those images and perceptions that librarians hold of their profession and of potential users and their information needs. It is not only negative images and perceptions that need to be overcome but also barriers caused by lack of awareness of the library world and unrealistic expectations. Surveys and experiences across all types of libraries from school to university and public to private sector are examined.

Green’s article used previously conducted studies exploring the effect images and perceptions held by library users, non-users and library staff have on the use of library staff and services. The conclusion is that negative images and perceptions resulted in low usage.

I believe it is already widely accepted that libraries are suffering from an image problem and that is affecting library usage. These images and perceptions could have been formed a long time ago by isolated incidents and, more importantly, may no longer be valid.

The good news is that image and perception are mental constructs. According to the Oxford English Dictionary:


    • A concept or impression, created in the minds of the public, of a particular person, institution, product, etc.; spec. a favourable impression; often in public image.

As a count noun: a direct recognition of something; an intuitive insight; an understanding. Also: an interpretation or impression based upon such an understanding; an opinion or belief.

Since image and perceptions are created in the mind, they can be changed or influenced. That’s where library marketing, promotion and public relations work come in.

This article is good enough as a discussion piece although I would have liked the key similarities and differences between studies to be presented in a diagram or table.

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