Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., Purcell, K., Madden, M., and Brenner, J. (2012). Libraries, patrons, and e-books. Pew Internet and American Life Project.
As a part of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, a report on the current state of libraries & e-books was commissioned that gives us a sense of the direction libraries are headed.
Quantitative data was collected by Pew through phone surveys of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 16 and up. Qualitative surveys were completed by ~4400 library patrons regarding their e-book usage, while ~1200 librarians completed the same questionnaire.
The findings of this comprehensive study are by no means shocking, but it does a satisfactory job of providing library directors with a model to frame their long-term planning in. Among their more notable results:
- More than 75% of public libraries lend e-books.
- 62% of library patrons are unaware their libraries offer e-books.
- 53% of tablet owners do not know if their library lends e-books.
- Only 12% of e-reader users have checked out an e-book from their library.
- General Findings
- 48% of African Americans say the library is very important to them, compared with 43% of Hispanics and 35% of whites.
- Library card holders use more technology and they report that they read more books.
- 58% of Americans have a library card, and 69% say their local library is important to them and their family.
The authors go on to identify the major shifts in public libraries, which generally correlate with larger shifts in how people are using technology, including:
- The changing of book borrowing habits: People are utilizing their library's physical space less and less in light of having a library website that is able to provide nearly identical functions.
- Library holdings are changing: As e-book requests rise, libraries are moving acquisition budgets reserved for other kinds of digital materials over to meet patron demand.
- Librarians roles are changing: With a lot of traditional library services now able to be automated, the skills required of librarians have shifted more to roles requiring technical instruction and support abilities.
This report is 80 pages long and really looks into how libraries are being used in a world where the world's information is available at the click of a button. As one of the Future of Library Interns, its important to understand the direction libraries are moving and to adapt to the skillsets required in order to remain relevant. There has been a lot of talk about what may or may not happen to libraries in the wake of the World Wide Web, but this report, at the very least, casts aside the notion that libraries are outdated and thus irrelevant.