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Dissertation Information for Thomas W. Shaughnessy

- Thomas W. Shaughnessy
- (Alias) Thomas William Shaughnessy

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- Rutgers University (USA) (1970)

- Mary V. Gaver
- Lowell A. Martin

- Mildred Y. Johnson
- Ralph Blasingame
- Richard Shoemaker

MPACT Status: Fully Complete


Abstract: This study was an attempt to evaluate one aspect of public library systems effectiveness, namely, the direct use of central libraries by persons living within a system’s service area. The usage patterns of twenty central libraries in three states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) were studied. These patterns were derived from questionnaire data collected from 10,857 users, a number which includes 90.7 percent of the total sample. In addition, 121 users were interviewed at some depth. The focus of the study was on the influence which distance and travel time has on central library attendance and use. Consequently, most of the usage data which were collected were cross-tabulated by consecutive distance intervals. This procedure permitted an examination of the influence of distance on a number of variables, for example, the socio-economic characteristics of users, the nature of central library use, other reasons for travel, type of transportation employed, etc. Some statistical data were tabulated for each library studied, for example, the number of volumes held, annual operating budget, and number of professional staff. Against these independent variables, the dependent library use variables were analyzed and statistically tested. In this case, a step-wise linear regression was used. Other important aspects of central library use which the study tried to explore were the influence of population density on library attendance, the extent to which non-central or local libraries tended to function as centers for their respective regions, and the extent to which local library users were aware of the existence of central libraries and their right to use them. Findings: To a limited extent central libraries have been effective in providing direct service to residents of library systems, but in two of the three states studied, the range of their effectiveness was found to be short of that anticipated in state plans. For the most part, a distance from 10 to 15 miles (or 20 to 30 minutes travel time) marks the practical limit of a central library’s range. It was also found that users who live at five miles or more from central libraries are not clearly distinguishable from nearby users in age, occupation or education. Persons attending central libraries from distances beyond five miles reflect the usual reasons for library use. In other words, the instruments used in this study failed to detect any obvious differences in the nature of central library use when examined in the context of distance traveled. Trips to central libraries are often made in connection with the use of other facilities and services in the localities where the libraries are located. Where local libraries of some strength exist in trading centers which are located at fifteen miles or more from central libraries, the local units are sometimes utilized as unofficial ‘central libraries’ for their immediate regions, even though they have not been designated or supported as such. However, a statistically significant difference was observed between usage rates of these units and official central libraries. The population size of the area encompassed by a library system was not in all cases a statistically significant factor in the frequency of central library use. However, the rate of central library attendance by persons living within specific distance intervals was found to be significantly related to certain aspects of a library’s strength. In one state two out of five local library users were unaware of their central library’s services and resources. Finally, in suburban areas, the pattern of central library use becomes uneven and blurred, presumably because of the variety of travel, shopping, and special service options which often characterize such areas.

MPACT Scores for Thomas W. Shaughnessy

A = 0
C = 4
A+C = 4
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-07-20 14:51:56

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Students under Thomas W. Shaughnessy

- None

- Joy Nandhivajrin - University of Southern California (1977)
- Lamoon Ruttakorn - University of Southern California (1977)
- Gebre-Christos Solomon - University of Southern California (1977)
- Hweifen Weng - Rutgers University (1997)