Survivorship Bias, Or How Outreach Will Help Win the War on Libraries
Keywords:survivorship bias, outreach, COVID, at-home services, mobile technology, bilingual services
Evidence of survivorship bias is present in all fields, including librarianship. This is especially true when searching for ways to attract new patrons. Libraries focus on the successes, that is, the patrons who come back. At all levels, from front-line staff to directors to board members, we focus on the current users, thinking that focus will bring new patrons. We want a higher percentage of community members to have library cards, so we look at what the current patrons are doing in our spaces and with the resources they are using. We dedicate our marketing and promotional efforts to programs with the highest attendance. We purchase more materials like the ones with the highest circulation. We look at when patrons will likely be in the building to schedule programs. This makes our current library users happy but misses the mark with our non-users. Outreach services can bridge the gap, though, and help libraries connect better with non-users.