PORTLAND – The Portland Public Library gets high marks in a survey of residents, but the head of the library said the results won’t cause the staff to become complacent.

The survey, paid for by a grant from the Davis Family Foundation, shows that two of every three Portlanders have library cards and 57 percent have visited the main library downtown or a branch in the last year.

The Portland Research Group survey is based on telephone calls in the spring to 400 residents, 227 respondents who filled out the survey online and 68 who filled out paper copies of the survey that were available at library branches. The findings were released Wednesday.

Most of the library’s visitors went to the main branch on Congress Street, and 78 percent gave the library system a score of 8 to 10 on a 10-point scale, according to the survey results.

Stephen Podgajny, the library’s executive director, said the results aren’t a huge surprise because the library system recorded 462,000 visits last year, an increase of nearly 100,000 over the previous record.

He said the survey reinforced the notion that people still focus on the library’s core mission as a place where people can read magazines and newspapers and check out books and movies to take home, and do it all in a nice environment.

“It really matters to people that (a library) be safe and comfortable and inspiring,” Podgajny said.

That reaffirms the decision to spend $7.3 million on a major renovation of the downtown branch, which was completed in April 2010, Podgajny said.

Most users said they went to the library to read, use computers or socialize.

The survey gave high grades to the library staff, with 86 percent of respondents saying they turned to the staff for help at some point. Ninety-one percent gave the staffers ratings of 8 to 10 on the assistance they provided.

“We have to continue to keep this in mind as tremendously important to people,” Podgajny said, noting that the library looks for workers who put a premium on customer service.

While the survey showed that library users are most interested in the book collection, Podgajny said that doesn’t mean the library will abandon efforts to “go beyond the stereotype” with services like programs for teenagers and outreach services for the homebound.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]