New Report: Pew Internet Releases a Typology of U.S. Public Library Engagement
“This is the final report in the Pew Internet public library initiative (funding from Gates Foundation) that was first announced in October 2011. These initiative studied the, “changing role of public libraries and library users in the digital age. You can review all of the previously released reports here. As many of you know this initiative as produced many well-known and frequently quoted studies.
The report being released today, a typology of public library engagement in the United States is titled, From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond.
It was written by Pew Internet’s Kathryn Zickuhr, Kristen Purcell and Lee Rainie.
Background and Key Findings
- Public library users and proponents are not a niche group: 30% of Americans ages 16 and older are highly engaged with public libraries, and an additional 39% fall into medium engagement categories.
- Americans’ library habits do not exist in a vacuum: Americans’ connection—or lack of connection—with public libraries is part of their broader information and social landscape. As a rule, people who have extensive economic, social, technological, and cultural resources are also more likely to use and value libraries as part of those networks. Many of those who are less engaged with public libraries tend to have lower levels of technology use, fewer ties to their neighbors, lower feelings of personal efficacy, and less engagement with other cultural activities.
- Life stage and special circumstances are linked to increased library use and higher engagement with information: Deeper connections with public libraries are often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision. Similarly, quieter times of life, such as retirement, or less momentous periods, such as when people’s jobs are stable, might prompt less frequent information searches and library visits.
Most Americans do not feel overwhelmed by information today. Some 18% of Americans say they feel overloaded by information—a drop in those feeling this way from 27% who said information overload was a problem to them in 2006. Those who feel overloaded are actually less likely to use the internet or smartphones, and are most represented in groups with lower levels of library engagement (such as Off the Grid, Distant Admirers, and Not For Me).”