WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 9, 2016) – Most Americans view public libraries as an important part of their communities, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. Three-quarters (77%) say that public libraries provide them with the resources they need, and 66% say the closing of their local public library would have a major impact on their community.
The survey of more than 1,600 U.S. adults age 16 and older finds that digital tools and comfortable workspaces are among the resources American library users expect to find at their local libraries. Fully 80% say libraries should definitely offer programs to teach people how to use digital tools such as computers and smartphones; 57% expect comfortable spaces for reading and working; and half say libraries should offer to buy 3-D printers and other digital tools so people can learn to use them.
The analysis also finds that visits to local libraries fluctuate. Overall, 53% of Americans have had some interaction with a public library in the past year – either through an in-person visit, a library website, or via a mobile app. Some 48% of adults specifically visited a library or bookmobile in the past 12 months, up from the 44% who said that in late 2015. And the number of Americans who visited library websites in the previous 12 months fell from 31% who said they’d done so in 2015 to 27% in 2016.
Among the findings:
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- Public is not settled on how books should be treated in their local libraries. 24% of adults support the idea of moving books in order to make way for more community and tech-oriented spaces, but 31% say libraries should not do this.
- 37% of Americans feel that public libraries contribute “a lot” when deciding what information they can trust, a 13-point increase from a survey conducted at a similar point in 2015.
- 19% of American adults say they have never visited a public library, including 11% of those who have college or graduate degrees.
- 64% of library users 16 and older checked out a book in the last 12 months, but only 29% used a computer at the library in the same timeframe.
- Frequent library visitors include college graduates (59%), women (57%), parents (55%), and those ages 16-29 (55%).
- 33% say that a library closing would have a major impact on their families, a feeling that is especially prominent among Latinos (48%), 50- to 64-year-olds (42%), and those with annual household incomes of $30,000 or less (41%).
The analysis in this report is based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted March 7 to April 4, 2016, among 1,601 adults, 16 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Read the report: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/09/09/2016/Libraries-2016/