What Do People Want From a Modern Library?

An October 7,2015, EfficientGov article highlighted the recent findings of a Pew Research Center survey on the expectations citizens have of their public libraries in the Internet age.  The article noted that citizens view libraries as positive impacts on their communities and that they should support local schools and provide  meeting space for the public and job training skills for businesses.  From the article:

A recent survey from Pew Research Center revealed 65 percent of residents over the age of 16 felt closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community. Therefore, it is in the best interest of municipalities to modernize libraries to ensure they offer a sustainable benefit to the community. The results showed what Americans want out of their public libraries including:

  • Support for local education
  • Services for special constituents such as veterans, active duty military personnel and immigrants
  • Assistance for local businesses, job seekers and those looking to upgrade their work skills
  • Adoption of new technologies such as 3-D printers and services to help patrons learn about high-tech gadgetry

Despite Americans wanting to preserve their public libraries, attendance nationwide in the institutions has declined as of late.

The article also noted a large majority of the public supported digitizing at least some of a library’s physical book collection to free up space for other purposes:

The push for digital capabilities underscores one major problem for public libraries: what to do with their vast collections of print books and materials. Around 70 percent of Americans over the age of 16 think libraries should definitely or maybe move some print books and stacks out of the buildings to free up public space for tech centers, reading rooms, meeting rooms and cultural events. Only 25 percent are completely opposed to moving some books out of library space, Pew Research Center reported.

The article also provided further detail on job training, public health education, and school assistance expectations.

2015-09-15 Pew Research Center Survey Summary