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Pew Report Finds Patrons Want Books and Technology

PewThis week, the Pew Research Center released the Internet & American Life Project report “Library Services in the Digital Age,” a study that examines the role of libraries in communities and the kinds of services people would like to see from libraries. In response to the report, American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan released a statement welcoming the new report. She stated:

The American Library Association is pleased to have this new data that both confirms and expands our understanding of why and how people use our nation’s public libraries.…I would like to highlight three vital findings from this report:

People value public libraries and librarians and believe they are important to their communities. Ninety-one percent of those aged 16 and older say that public libraries are important to them. Millions of people have used library services in the past year. They have visited in person and many taken advantage of library websites and digital collections. Half of all those who have visited their library say they did so to get help from a librarian. Eighty percent of all people reported that reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries. Libraries are centers of learning and discovery, and librarians serve as guides and teachers.

Libraries continue to be at the forefront of bridging the digital divide. Libraries ensure that all people have access to books in all formats, to the Internet, and to training that enables them to use technology and research resources. More than a quarter of people aged 16 and older say they have used computers or Wi-Fi at the library to go online. People use technology services to do research, to connect with others via email and social media, and to obtain health, government and employment information. Library technology services are essential to serving communities of all sizes. The investments that have been made in our nation’s libraries (e.g., the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) must be sustained.

Libraries continue to innovate and evolve in ways that bring value to our communities. About 70 percent of public libraries offer digital/virtual reference and information services to answer patron questions. Libraries have tripled the number of e-books available to their readers. Thirty-nine percent of libraries circulate e-book readers for patron use. Ninety percent of libraries offer formal and informal technology training to patrons. A growing number of libraries offer mobile websites, apps and QR links to library resources and services. Many of these new services have been recognized as “cutting-edge technology in library services” by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.”

Visit to learn more about the Pew study.

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Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright is a former press officer of the Washington Office.

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