Public Libraries are Important

March 10, 2017

www.ifla.org

 

To me, public libraries are a staple in every community.  When I walk inside, I instantly feel a calming in my spirit, whether I am walking in to attend a program, find a book to read, or do research.  This has not changed over the many years I have been visiting local libraries.  However, what has changed is the amount of technology found in libraries today and my awareness of the many various services the library has to offer.  Over the past week or so, I have been reading articles about public libraries and how they are changing to meet the demands and needs of their community.

 

www.techsoupforlibraries.org

According to the PEW research center, Americans who have “extensive economic, social, technological, and cultural resources” tend to use and value the public library more than those who are less apt to use technology, are less social, and are less involved in cultural activities.  For example, one study showed a high amount of public library use among “big technology users.”  This makes sense because many libraries are adding newer technology in order to stay connected to their community.  Those interested in newer technology are going to visit the library to experience and use this technology, especially if it something they do not have access to in their home or school.  One study showed that “75% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 per year use the internet, but only about 52% have a broadband connection at home.”  Consequently, free internet access at the library is highly important to those households, as is access to other types of technology.  Another study found that 80% of Americans consider the most important library service available is free access to media and books.  This could include DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and access to technological devices.  The key point here is free access, which public libraries are known for.  Technology is expensive and there are huge portions of communities which are unable to afford access to technology on their own.  When the library offers access free of charge, it allows these patrons to stay connected with society and possibly change their life for the better.  Public libraries are a huge asset to every community and it is my hope that their main goal is to reach every member of the community in order to enrich every life, whether that be through technology, books, or special programming.

Resources

Zickuhr, K. (March 18, 2014).  A new way of looking at public library engagement in America.  Accessed via www.libraries.pewinternet.org

Zickuhr, K. (July 9, 2014).  Public libraries and technology:  From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access.”  Accessed via www.libraries.pewinternet.org

Rainie, L. (Jan. 24, 2014).  10 Facts about Americans and public libraries.  Accessed via www.pewresearch.org

5 Responses to “Public Libraries are Important”

  1. These are definitely the trends I am noticing at the public library which I work. I am glad that we are able to meet the needs of the community by providing free access to technology. As you state in your blog, libraries are a an asset and by providing technology we can reach out to every member.

  2. So true! I think you will appreciate the “Library as Classroom” module – it will unpack the idea of PL as learning space even further.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! Our highest circulating items for adults are DVDs by far and most adults utilize our services strictly for our internet and computer access.

    Another new form of technology being introduced in our library system is Mi-fi where internet access can be checked out and taken with the patron. I know there have been some issues, but again it goes back to being able to provide free access. Being able to take the internet with you has got to be a great option for those with busy schedules!

    • Kelly–I hadn’t heard of “Mi-Fi” before. I love the ring it has.

      Of note, DVDs were a high circulating collection for us until a county wide project to install Broadband access to any home wanting it (each family still has to pay the monthly use charges)was completed. Following that, DVD use dropped off. We anticipate our users are streaming NetFlix now. This has us thinking about opportunities to stream content, too, and also how to stay in touch with remote users. It’s fascinating how one piece of additional technology–in this case, broadband–can change the behaviors of a community.

      Thanks all.

  4. You’re post highlights so many imperative points about the reliance of public libraries and how crucial they are to many patrons. Technology is a huge factor and is in high demand at libraries and giving patrons the tech resources they need and want is one of the reasons public libraries are relevant and will remain that way because the ultimate goal is to provide free resources.

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