Case Study

Municipal Case Study: Mississauga Library System


The Mississauga Library System, in suburban Toronto, serves an ethnically diverse population of 750,000 residents.


Mississauga’s library system’s administrators wanted to know what improvements their 18 branches could undertake to better serve the community. While they knew plenty about the reading habits of card-carrying library members—46 percent of the community—they wanted to know which residents weren’t being well served by its branch network and how these non-users could be better accommodated.


EA analysts PRIZM-coded the postal codes of about 300,000 cardholders from the library system’s database of members. Then analysts calculated the performance benchmark for library usage in each of PRIZM’s 66 lifestyles and identified the best- and worst-performing PRIZM segments.


The analysis revealed that the highest concentration of library patrons lived in segments containing young families with children, particularly the households of recent immigrants in groups like South Asian Society, Asian Affluence and Blue-Collar Comfort. On the other hand, the PRIZM segments where few residents used the library tended to be home to older, empty-nesting, blue-collar couples of Southern and Eastern European extraction—segments such as Cluttered Nests, Grey Pride and New Italy. The EA assessment also provided a deeper analysis of library patrons: their demographics, media usage, purchase behaviours, lifestyles and Social Values.


After creating target groups of heavy and light library users, analysts mapped areas of Mississauga with a high potential for library cardholders but low membership rates. Library administrators then began developing programs that would appeal to these older residents, such as stamp clubs and choir performances during daylight hours. One branch even found success hosting an open house for seniors on how to create and use free email accounts. “We tried to reach out to seniors by making the library more like a community meeting place during the day,” says Don Mills, Mississauga’s Chief Librarian. Library managers also tapped the PRIZM data to counteract low membership caused by poor communication. Using the PRIZM profiles, they created door handle promotional pieces, mailers and other outreach efforts intended to remind infrequent users of library offerings. Today the Mississauga Library System is rolling out programming and marketing efforts that speak to the needs of its diverse residents.