From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers and Beyond

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Library News | Comments Off on From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers and Beyond

 A new report as part of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project focus on libraries has been released, From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers and Beyond. You can read the introduction below, view the summary, or the complete report.

Report Summary:

Complete Report (PDF):

Report Introduction:
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project today released a new report examining the spectrum of Americans’ relationships with public libraries. This elaborate typology of groups based on their library engagement the first of its kind sheds light on broader issues around the relationship between technology, libraries, and information resources in the U.S.

Respondents were sorted into groups based on the results of a special statistical analysis of their engagement with public libraries, such as their library use and their views about libraries’ roles in their communities. Among the major findings:

  • Public library users and proponents are not a niche group: 30% of Americans ages 16 and older are highly engaged with public libraries, and an additional 39% fall into medium engagement categories.
  • Americans’ library habits do not exist in a vacuum: Americans’ connection—or lack of connection—with public libraries is part of their broader information and social landscape. As a rule, people who have extensive economic, social, technological, and cultural resources are also more likely to use and value libraries as part of those networks. Many of those who are less engaged with public libraries tend to have lower levels of technology use, fewer ties to their neighbors, lower feelings of personal efficacy, and less engagement with other cultural activities.
  • Life stage and special circumstances are linked to increased library use and higher engagement with information: Deeper connections with public libraries are often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision. Similarly, quieter times of life, such as retirement, or less momentous periods, such as when people’s jobs are stable, might prompt less frequent information searches and library visits.