Pew: Americans Express Positive Views on Local Libraries

Pew Research CenterThe Pew Research Center released the results of a new survey today that asked Americans about their views on local libraries.

Overall, most Americans view public libraries favorably, according to the survey, with 77 percent saying that their libraries provide them with the resources they need, and 66 percent saying that the closing of their local library would have a major impact on their community.

The survey was conducted between March 7 and April 4, and polled 1,601 adults, 16 years of age or older, living in all 50 states and Washington DC.

Despite the mostly positive views of libraries, however, Americans are not in agreement on how libraries should treat books, according to the survey. Twenty-four percent support the idea of prioritizing more community and tech-oriented spaces over books; 31 percent, on the other hand, say libraries should not do this.

More results from the survey are below:

• 80 percent say libraries should definitely offer programs to teach people how to use digital tools, such as computers and smartphones.
• 57 percent expect comfortable spaces for reading and working.
• 50 percent say libraries should offer to buy 3D printers and other digital tools so people can learn to use them.
• 37 percent believe that public libraries contribute “a lot” when deciding what information they can trust, a 13-point increase from a survey conducted at a similar point in 2015.
• 19 percent of American adults say they have never visited a public library, including 11 percent of those who have college or graduate degrees.
• 64 percent of library users 16 and older checked out a book in the last 12 months.
• 29 percent of library users 16 and older used a computer at the library in the last 12 months.
Frequent library visitors include college graduates (59 percents), women (57 percent), parents (55 percent), and those ages 16-29 (55 percent).
• 33 percent say that a library closing would have a major impact on their families, a feeling that is especially pronounced among Latinos (48 percent), 50- to 64-year-olds (42 percent), and those with annual household incomes of $30,000 or less (41 percent).


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