An overwhelming majority of Americans acknowledge that public libraries offer more than just books and provide community-tailored programs and services that improve the quality of life, according to “Libraries and Society,” a report that has been released from the Pew Research Center that examines the role of public libraries in communities.
“I am proud that libraries have earned enormous trust and satisfaction from the American public,” said American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling. “But we also know that one-third of all Americans still lack home internet access, and a recent global survey finds U.S. adults lag behind many of their counterparts overseas in basic education skills. Our work is not done, and libraries will continue to innovate and meet evolving needs as new technologies and applications emerge. Libraries are transforming lives through education and help level the playing field for all.”
The report found that 95 percent of Americans agree that libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed. At a time when more and more information is moving online and into digital formats, people continue to highly value free access to books and media, assistance from librarians, a safe and welcoming public space, and a range of resources and programs.
From 2011 to 2012, public demand for digital training and technology classes increased 36 percent, while the demand for public internet-connected computers went up 60 percent. The Pew study found that 72 percent of all Americans adults have either used a public library in the past year or live in a household with a family member who is an active library user.
“The future of libraries is both online and in person—high tech and high touch,” added Stripling. “From children’s storytimes to makerspaces to mobile applications and augmented reality, libraries mix traditional and new services to meet changing community needs. If you haven’t visited your library lately, I invite you to stop by or log on and let us surprise you.”
Visit www.pewInternet.org/topics/Libraries.aspx to learn more about the Pew study and the American Libraries magazine’s E-Content blog for up-to-date news on libraries and digital content.
Source: American Library Association, www.ala.org