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According to new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, parents see libraries as very important community resources. Libraries’ digital books and technologies are a major draw for families.
Parents value libraries for their full spectrum services “from traditional stuff like books in stacks and comfortable reading spaces to high-tech kiosks and more e-books and mobile apps,” says Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project. Libraries’ digital offerings are key resources for parents and children.
Lower income parents rely on libraries for digital books
Parents in households earning less than $50,000 are “very likely” to take advantage of digital tools in the library. Among these households:
- 44% are very likely to take classes on how to download library e-books
- 40% are very likely to borrow e-readers already loaded with library content
- 40% are very likely to use the digital media lab
- 34% are very likely to take classes on how to use e-readers
Even families that own technology extensively use libraries
The survey also shows that low-income parents are not the only ones who value the digital resources offered in public libraries. All parents, even those who own and use their own digital devices extensively, make use of libraries more than other people.
“Parents are more likely than other adults to have computers, internet access, smartphones, and tablet computers,” says Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Analyst at the Pew
Internet Project. “The more technology they have, the more they’re likely to take advantage of library services.
Parents use the library more than childless adults
Households with kids under the age of 18 use more library services more often than others in the community. The Pew survey confirms that compared to adults without kids, parents are more likely to have library cards, visit the library, use the library website, and use mobile devices to connect the library.
Parents overwhelmingly value libraries’ outreach to youth. A full 97% of parents agree that library programs and classes for children and teens are important. They value libraries because they believe reading is essential in their children’s lives. 58% of parents with children under age 6 read to their child every day; as do 50% of parents with children under 12. Other findings include:
- 84% of parents who say libraries are important say a major reason they want their children to have access to libraries is that libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books.
- 81% say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries provide their children with information and resources not available at home.
- 71% also say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries are a safe place for children.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted this research by surveying 2,252 Americans ages 16 and above. They held 584 interviews with parents of children under 18. They carried out this work in October and November, 2012 in both English and Spanish.