The Pew Research Center released a new report on the state of the American library user. The report is based on a survey conducted in March and April of this year, and while it is far too long to be summarized in a blog post few details jumped out at me.
Pew asked its survey group whether they thought that libraries should move some print books and stacks out of public locations to free up more space for such things as tech centers, reading rooms, meeting rooms and cultural events.
Some 30% of respondents thought it was a great idea (up from 20% in 2012), while 40% thought that libraries should “maybe” do that, and 25% were opposed to the idea (down from 36% in 2012).
This is a sign of the growing appreciation that books aren’t quite so important as they used to be. They’re a means to an end (disseminating knowledge), and thanks to new tech books are now just one of many ways for libraries to inform their patrons.
Libraries also, for example, have ebooks. The American Library Association says that 90% of public libraries in the US, but sadly most patrons aren’t aware of that fact:
Pew’s survey found that:
People are increasingly aware that they can borrow e-books at their public library. Some 38% say their public library has e-books, compared with 31% who said this in 2012. Those more likely to be aware that their library has e-books are college graduates (52% say they are aware of e-book lending), parents (44%) and those in homes where the annual income is over $75,000 (44%).
Only 16% of the 38% have checked out a library ebook, which means that only 6% of library patrons are making use of a service that many libraries offer.
Even accounting for those who don’t have the tech required to check out ebooks, that is a disappointingly low number.
And that goes double when you consider that 66% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months said that they checked out a paper book. Sure, the paper book collection is larger at most libraries, but you would think that all the attention generated by the Kindle would have resulted in higher library ebook use.
You can find the complete report on the Pew website.
image by state_libraryofohio