Survivorship Bias, Or How Outreach Will Help Win the War on Libraries


  • Carrie Turney Ross Jackson County Library Services



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.


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Author Biography

Carrie Turney Ross, Jackson County Library Services

Carrie Turney Ross (she/her/hers) graduated in 2017 with a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Texas Woman’s University. She began her library career at a small library in Texas as a library associate while attending graduate school. Turney Ross is a born-and-raised Texan, but an Oregonian by choice. She moved to Medford, Oregon to begin a new position as the Adult Services Coordinator at Jackson County Library Services in February 2020 and was promoted to Area Manager, Outreach & Programs in September 2021. She is passionate about library outreach services, community engagement, and selecting the perfect meme or gif for any occasion. When not working, she spends her time playing with her nine-month-old, exploring the southern Oregon wine country with her spouse, and/or reading science fiction or fantasy.




How to Cite

Turney Ross, C. (2024). Survivorship Bias, Or How Outreach Will Help Win the War on Libraries. OLA Quarterly, 28(1), 19–22.