Pew’s Latest Study Shows That Libraries Are More Important Than Ever

Americans understand why we need libraries, even as paper books decline in importance.

Americans love libraries. The most recent proof can be found in Pew Internet’s latest survey, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities. It’s true that the role of libraries is evolving, and many Americans feel libraries are more important than ever. Access to technology is becoming a necessity for everyone, from job seekers to senior citizens to the underprivileged.

As David Vinjamuri points out in a recent Forbes article, libraries at the core of our communities:

But there is another side to public libraries in America: they are dynamic, versatile community centers. They welcomed more than 1.59 billion visitors in 2009 and lent books 2.4 billion times – more than 8 times for each citizen. More than half of young adults and seniors living in poverty in the United States used public libraries to access the Internet. They used this access, among other purposes to “find work, apply to college, secure government benefits, and learn about critical medical treatments” For all this, public libraries cost just $42 per citizen each year to maintain.

Pew Internet’s survey revealed some interesting facts about how Americans feel about libraries. Here are nine of those numbers. Check out the full report here.

Of those surveyed:

95% agree that the resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.
95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading.
55% believe libraries have done a good job keeping up with technology
52% say that people do not need public libraries as much as they used to.
56% of Internet users without home access say public libraries’ basic technological resources are very important.
91% say they know where the closest public library is.
54% have used a public library in the past 12 months.
94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community.
Dec 18 2013