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LONG OVERDUE: a Fresh Look at Public Attitudes about Libraries in the 21st Century

Here’s a must-read report from a friends group with a difference. If you get to meet these folks at ALA say thanks.
Dear Colleagues:
What do Americans think of libraries in the age of the Internet? We thought we’d ask, so we engaged Public Agenda to conduct a major national public opinion study. We are delighted to share the final report with you today. For a copy of Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century, as well as an overview and fact sheets of interest, please visit here.
A glimpse into the results:
* As you might guess, libraries top the list of public services receiving an “A” grade, ahead even of police and schools;
* More than half the public (52%) would rather raise taxes than cut library services or charge fees for them;
* 9 in 10 Americans believe that libraries will be needed in the future, regardless of technological developments.
But along with the good news comes a wake-up call to the library community:
* Engaged citizens who vote in local elections and care deeply about libraries are no more likely than others to support libraries financially, or to advocate for their well-being — they simply don’t know that library funding may be in jeopardy;
* Elected officials recognize that communities trust libraries, but they do not fully employ (or fund) libraries to solve pressing community problems — problems that libraries are uniquely positioned to help resolve.
The report concludes by identifying four specific challenges that libraries could help communities meet, allowing them to fill a vital community need while simultaneously positioning themselves as funding priorities for elected officials:
* Providing a safe and engaging space for teens;
* Supporting adult literacy and other components of workforce development;
* Expanding access to the Internet and other uses of technology;
* Becoming a community hub, making government forms and services easily available.

Our website includes examples of libraries providing just these critical services, in addition to the text of the full report, an overview, a press release, and more. Here is the link again:
Long Overdue was sponsored by Americans for Libraries Council, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of a broad-based advocacy initiative to build knowledge of and support for libraries. The next step in that effort will be the launch of a new advocacy website,, this July. We will send you a launch announcement as soon as we go live!
In the meantime, we welcome your feedback on this watershed study. We would also appreciate your help in raising awareness of the findings, particularly among policymakers.
Please feel free to forward this note to your contacts, to share our press release with your local news media, and to send a copy of the report or the summary to the elected officials in your community and state. Your communities and your libraries will benefit.
Many thanks for your interest and support.
Diantha Dow Schull,
Americans for Libraries Council

Posted on: June 19, 2006, 12:00 pm Category: Uncategorized

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