For three years, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project has been studying Americans’ relationships with public libraries in the digital age. Here, we’ve boiled it all down to 39 shareable slides.

Our libraries research is broken down in three phases:

  • The state of reading in America
  • Library services
  • Library typology

What we found from these phases of research is that relationships to libraries are part of Americans’ broader resource networks. Once libraries are a part of their networks, services are especially important to low-income households. Books, browsing, and librarians are still central to how people use libraries and what they expect from them, but technology (computers, internet) is also a common use and a high priority.

Public libraries are also used and viewed as important community spaces.

Dive into the slide deck for more facts about libraries and reading in the digital age.

Looking at our library typology another way:

Print Traditionalists, a medium-library-engagement group, are far more likely to live in rural areas than any other group, and account for 1 in 5 rural residents. Take a look at what library engagement looks like in other community types, and see what it boils down to (demographics).

Many library staff members say they see the role of a public library enabling access to information, regardless of format. 
Our data shows that 91% of Americans have either used a public library at some point in their life, or say someone else in their household uses a public library. Among them, 77% of Americans who use the internet but lack home access say computer and internet access at their public library is important to them and their family.
An article in the New York Times yesterday explored some of the ways patrons of the Clason’s Point Library branch in the Bronx rely on the library’s internet access—even when the library itself is closed.
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Many library staff members say they see the role of a public library enabling access to information, regardless of format. 

Our data shows that 91% of Americans have either used a public library at some point in their life, or say someone else in their household uses a public library. Among them, 77% of Americans who use the internet but lack home access say computer and internet access at their public library is important to them and their family.

An article in the New York Times yesterday explored some of the ways patrons of the Clason’s Point Library branch in the Bronx rely on the library’s internet access—even when the library itself is closed.

Read more

How did our online quiz-takers compare with the results of our nationally representative telephone survey? One unsurprising finding: If you take a quiz called “What kind of library user are you?”, you probably know the answer.

Calling all librarians, educators, civic leaders, or members of the public who are interested in your local public library’s role in your community: 

We have new quiz tool that allows you to create your own version of our library user quiz and invite members of your community to take it. You can learn how your community’s members use their local public library, how they think about their library’s impact on the community, and how they view the importance of libraries in the digital age. 

This post offers helpful information on the quiz and how to take it. Click here to go directly to the quiz.

Did you know:

  • Older Americans are least likely to use libraries
  • Just 4% of Americans are “e-book only” readers
  • Those who use libraries are more likely than others to be book buyers

7 surprises about libraries found in our surveys

Which one of these icons best represents your library habits and attitudes? 

Are you a “Library Lover”? An “Information Omnivore”? Or are you totally “Off the Grid”? Take our library engagement quiz to learn how your library habits and attitudes stack up against the general population.

Did you know: Technology users are generally library users. A common narrative is that Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technology, but the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users. In fact, members of the high engagement groups are more likely to use the internet than lower engagement groups.
A new way of looking at public library engagement in America: http://pewrsr.ch/1iZCrUb

Did you know: Technology users are generally library users. A common narrative is that Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technology, but the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users. In fact, members of the high engagement groups are more likely to use the internet than lower engagement groups.

A new way of looking at public library engagement in America: http://pewrsr.ch/1iZCrUb

"A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make."

PBS Newshour: Turns out the most engaged library users also biggest tech users

We have a new report out today, a typology of Americans’ engagement with public libraries. It caps off the past three years of research the Pew Research Center has produced on the topic of public libraries’ changing role in Americans’ lives and communities.

Some of the main findings:

  • Americans’ library habits do not exist in a vacuum: People’s 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. 
  • 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.
  • Technology users are generally library users: A common narrative is that Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technology, but the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users. 

Check out the full report on our website! And if you’re curious about the basic data, this earlier report summarizes the measures we used to explore Americans’ engagement with public libraries.

Technology is a fast-paced beast that is changing Americans’ reading habits. Half of Americans now own a tablet or e-reader and libraries have responded by expanding their digital offerings.

But what hasn’t changed is folks’ love for reading; and libraries play an important role.

In advance of the American Library Association’s Midwinter Convention (#alamw14), we’ve rounded up some of our most key facts on Americans and libraries, and we’ll be sharing them throughout the day. http://pewrsr.ch/1aPI3HN

One of the most highly valued library services in our new survey: Having a quiet, safe place.
What’s most important to you in your library?
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One of the most highly valued library services in our new survey: Having a quiet, safe place.

What’s most important to you in your library?

Read more

Tags: Libraries

If your local library closed, what impact would it have on your family and your community?
BRAND NEW REPORT out today finds thatAmericans strongly value the role of public libraries in their communities, both for providing access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life.54% of Americans have used a public library in the past year, and 72% live in a “library household.”
More: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/12/11/libraries-in-communities/

If your local library closed, what impact would it have on your family and your community?

BRAND NEW REPORT out today finds thatAmericans strongly value the role of public libraries in their communities, both for providing access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life.54% of Americans have used a public library in the past year, and 72% live in a “library household.”

More: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/12/11/libraries-in-communities/

explore-blog:

Absolutely brilliant cartoon by Randy Glasbergen, explaining in modern terms why we have books. 

And this is why we study libraries in the digital age at Pew Internet! http://libraries.pewinternet.org/

explore-blog:

Absolutely brilliant cartoon by Randy Glasbergen, explaining in modern terms why we have books

And this is why we study libraries in the digital age at Pew Internet! http://libraries.pewinternet.org/

(Source: , via npr)

Fun with charts: We’ve added a data-heavy appendix to our latest report on libaries + the digital age, which includes generational breakdowns. Dive in and splash around. http://pewrsr.ch/12z3uZo