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SWON News: Future of Libraries

Public Library Engagement in the United States: Pew’s latest research

Monday, September 29, 2014  
Posted by: Melanie Blau McDonald
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As I’ve written about before, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has been conducting research over the last three years into various aspects of public library engagement, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here is their latest installment, a Slideshare that covers all of their research. It includes links to their publications during the research as they looked at various aspects. Naturally, there are ‘details’ not covered. For example, there’s a graphic that shows that almost half of readers under 30 read an e-book in the past year. If they were school age children we don’t know if it was a school assignment or if the book was their choice. What I hear from teacher friends is that many schools are pushing an exclusively digital agenda, giving them no funds to buy physical books but funds to buy e-books. If this is so, then the schools themselves are bringing about this movement. But even so, it’s important for the public libraries to know what’s going on so that they may respond to their communities’ needs.

So if you want to get some answers to the following questions:

  • What should public libraries do?
  • What do Americans want from libraries?
  • Who uses/doesn’t use public libraries today?
I can think of no better place to start than with the Pew’s latest research.


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