The first is a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project titled “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books” [Pew Report] (2012). There were some interesting trends that mirror some of the positions stated in the discussions.
Based the Pew Report’s findings, a strong argument could be made that libraries need to do a better job in updating their image as an agency ready for the 21st Century. For example, 58% of library card holders were not aware that e-book lending was available at their library even though 76% of libraries do lend e-books. Fifty-three percent of tablet users, such as an iPad or Kindle Fire, do not know if the library loans e-books. Similarly, 48% of e-reader owners did not know whether their libraries loaned e-books. Finally, 47% of those who read an e-book within the past year did not know about library e-book lending (Pew Report, 2012).
Libraries are still important, however, to most Americans. Fifty-eight percent of Americans have a library card and 69% of those people state that the library is important to them (Pew Report, 2012, p.6). Of those who own library cards, e-books habits are nearly equal: 46% prefer to buy e-books while 45% want to borrow them (Pew Report, 2012, p. 7).
One disturbing trend is for those 16-17 years of age. Fort-five percent of these people indicated that the library was “not important” to them (Pew Report, 2012, p.12). Whether this changes as their needs become more complex is one trend to study closely, perhaps as a temporal cohort study.
The data that includes interactions with librarians show that 20% receive research help from a librarian. However, of that 16-17 year old group that responded about libraries being not very important to them, 43% did get research help from a librarian. Also, specific comments from librarians indicate that technology support is becoming more important in their jobs (Pew Report, 2012, p. 35).
I’ll post about the second report later.
Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., Purcell, K., Madden, M., Brenner, J., & Pew Internet & American Life, P. (2012). Libraries, Patrons, and E-Books. Pew Internet & American Life Project.