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Results of a recent Pew Research Study are reported in Publishers Weekly.
The singular most important finding in the latest Pew study, Library Services in the Digital Age, is that libraries—in the opinion of most Americans—aren’t just about books. 80% of U.S. residents say that lending books is a “very important” service, but they rate the help they get from reference librarians as equally important. And nearly the same number, 77%, reported that free access to technology and the Internet is also very important. This triumvirate—books, help, and technology—runs through the entire report.
Could the library brand—historically bound to book borrowing—be undergoing a transformation? In the last major study of users, OCLC’s Perception of Libraries, 2010, patrons were asked to associate the first thing that came to mind when they thought of libraries. And for 75% of the respondents, the answer was books. While Pew didn’t play the same association game, it seems that Pew’s users have a more nuanced take on the library’s role.
The Pew study is based on landline and cell phone interviews conducted in English and Spanish, with a nationally representative sample of 2,252 people ages 16 and older. It could be that the study tapped into a younger demographic who make greater use of library technology. Or perhaps the recession, which has forced millions to rediscover libraries, was a catalyst for users to take fuller advantage of what the library offers.
Copy of the results of this latest study here. According to the authors "Patrons embrace new technologies – and would welcome more. But many still want printed books to hold their central place."
"I don't personally use the library. I kind of have the feeling that libraries are going the route of the video rental stores but I'm probably... wrong about that," said Coun. Ian Paton. "With the access to information now, with everyone having computers in their home, why do we spend so much money? Do the people out there even know we spent $2.3 million a year of our money to run our libraries in Delta and just how many people use libraries any more?"
The public library has the real ability to add real value and to be a real community hub in social network community world. But does it understand this, or as in the UK, is it obsessed with its statutory obligations and keeping everything ‘as is’ at all costs? Are the ‘Shhh, no noise’ signs actually hiding a sleeping environment that is simply not listening to the market and its customers?
We are witnessing harsh funding cuts, a worrying migration to voluntary services, the wholesale dumping of every customer facing civic service into the library’s ‘underused space’ and a general lack of leadership and digital direction within the public library community.
The News-Herald reports librarians claiming increased activity at their agencies in Ohio's Lake and Geauga counties due to ebooks and ereaders as well as other technologies.
"A library is an unlikely place to see a 1934 Harley or Honda crotch rocket.
In fact it's a good bet the term "crotch rocket" is rarely uttered inside the quiet, hallowed halls of a book repository.
But the public library in the western Wisconsin community of River Falls is currently a great place to see a small but comprehensive exhibit of vintage motorcycles for free, no library card required."
The Wall Street Journal has a front page story, January 7, 2013, "Check These Out at the Library: Blacksmithing, Bowling, Butchering To Draw Crowds, Some Facilities Offer Much More Than Books; Expanding the Tool Selection." by Owen Fletcher.
Public libraries have long served as gathering places and offered a range of nonliterary programs. And those who predicted their demise "have been proved wrong," says historian Wayne Wiegand, emeritus professor of library and information studies at Florida State University.
Community-focused activities at libraries aren't new developments, he says, but rather "repetitions of what happened in the past."
Librarians say they are increasing the number and variety of programs they offer—and people seem to be responding.
Attendance at public library programs rose 29% from 2004 to 2010, as overall visits to libraries also rose, according to the most recent survey by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
From the Atlants Journal-Consitituion: "Gwinnett Commissioners needs to find a way to save library materials budget" 12:52 am January 3, 2013, by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso.
"A strong library system is obviously important for literacy and academic success but I think it’s even more important during hard economic times. For many struggling families it is the only way for them to get books, movies and music. They give up subscriptions to Netflix or buying magazines and books, and the library allows them to still have entertainment and enrichment in their lives. I hope the Gwinnett County Commissioners can put their heads together and find a way to not cut or cut less from the materials budget for the sake of the county. A strong library is extremely important to the community and cannot be undervalued!"
Mary McConnell Bailey died as quietly as she lived. At her request, no services were held. No obituary was written. Even one of her closest friends cannot say for sure where she is buried.
The library plans to split her bequest: half for programming, materials and resources for the 87 branch libraries in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; and half for its four research libraries, according to Ms. Geduldig.
This was originally found lurking in the comments today attached to a story dating from November:
Books for International Goodwill has donated over 5.7 miillion books to libraries in the U.S. and overseas. We have 150,000 news and used books in our warehosue at any one time. We would be happy to provide books to libraries damaged by hurricane Sandy, but do not have a contact. We will cover the cost of transportation (and even cover the cost of a librariian to come to our site in Annapolis, MD to pick books, if tht is feasible). If anyone has a contact to help us get this off the ground, it would be appreciated.
Steve Frantzich---President Books for Interntional Goodwill 410 721 7344
As a general matter of good practices, it is best not to leave comments on stories over 45 days old as they might not be seen by most users. If anybody wishes to contact Mr. Frantzich in this matter his contact details are shown above.
Do We Still Need Libraries? is a series of opinion pieces from the New York times. See: