The Pew Internet & American Life Project has a new report out: Information searches that solve problems: How people use the internet, libraries, and government agencies when they need help.
It’s an interesting read… and I’m not quite sure how to take it! So… here’s a list of what I saw as some highlights in the report, with some yays and boos to go along with each (mainly taken from the executive summary part of the report):
Page v: “Faced with a problem in the past two years that they needed to address, about one in eight adults (13%) say they turned to their local public library for help and information.”
- Yay! a goodly chunk of people used the library for real help – cool!
- Boo! One in eight is dismal! How can we raise that number?
Page vi: “Major finding: 53% of American adults report going to a local public library in the past 12 months.”
- Yay! 53%! That’s a majority of Americans! They love us!
- Boo! Read the fine print – “in the past 12 months.” This says nothing about how many times they visited – only that they had visited at least once. Dave’s illogical translation: that could be one visit last year, to stop off at the bathroom or to pick up a child. that’s not a good indicator of library use!
Page viii: “Major finding: About a fifth of Americans with problems to address said they were concerned about privacy disclosures as they hunted for information.”
- Yay! We’re all about privacy!
- Boo! 4/5’s of Americans could care less about what librarians consider a major, huge issue. We’re spinning our wheels on the wrong road!
So… here’s what Pew concludes (from their website): “The survey results challenge the assumption that libraries are losing relevance in the internet age. Libraries drew visits by more than half of Americans (53%) in the past year for all kinds of purposes, not just the problems mentioned in this survey. And it was the young adults in tech-loving Generation Y (age 18-30) who led the pack. Compared to their elders, Gen Y members were the most likely to use libraries for problem-solving information and in general patronage for any purpose.”
But here’s what I saw:
- only 1 in 8 adults use the library [when faced with a problem]
- 53% of American adults visited the library… at least once.
- 4/5’s of Americans aren’t as concerned about privacy as librarians are
I think we have some more work to do!