Monday, February 11, 2013

Pew Internet Library Report

The Pew Internet and American Life Project issued a report January 22 on "Library Services in the Digital Age." The report is really aimed at public libraries, but it's interesting for all librarians, I think. Here is a snippet of the summary: 

The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans’ reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.

But what you get when you follow the link to Pew is a summary of the study.  Writing at Salon, Laura Miller, somewhat annoyingly titles her essay, "Bring back shushing librarians."  She points out that if you go to the entire Pew study, you will discover that while the summary tells you that the top 3 preferences among public library users are: 

  • 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.
  • 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.
  • 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.
That a very close 4th, at 76%, is a QUIET place to study for adults and children. This is of interest to academic and law libraries as well as public libraries, I think.  I know of a number of law libraries that try to implement a "quiet" area, including banning clicking laptops from the area.  One of the things that is easy for us to forget, as adults who have our own, controlled living spaces, is that many of our students have roommates, or young children, and may have difficulty getting quiet study space at home.  Sometimes libraries can become quiet loud, between teaching 1-Ls how to research, explaining things to questioners from the reference desk, socializing among the tables and (disapproved) cell phone use! 

Maybe we DO need to bring back shushing librarians, after all.

No comments: