education, technology, and everything else

Pew report on library usage

Posted by Miranda on January 1, 2008

A post over on David Warlick’s blog Web Generation Uses Libraries… led me to start doing some looking around. The post refers to an article in the Raleigh News & Observer about a study done recently by Pew Internet and American Life Project and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Now it’s funny because the article doesn’t really draw any conclusion, the main thrust is this statistic: that 21% of Americans with questions related to health, job training, government benefits have gone to a library to get those questions answered.
But it’s quotable quote comes from Lee Rainie, Pew’s director:
“The age of books isn’t yet over”

Computerworld, reporting on the same study, concentrates on the fact that while at the library, 65% of respondents looked up information on the Internet on library computers. It also reports that 62% used computers to check on library resources, which to my mind is one of the most meaningless statistics ever. Even our little library in town keeps its card catalog on a computer these days, I mean you can’t check library resources except with a computer.

I just think it’s funny the way things get filtered according to what the writer wants to see..
According to the Pew site:

The focus of the survey was how Americans address common problems that might be linked to government.

not on library usage in general.

Well draw your own conclusions. The pdf of the report can be downloaded here and so can the original questionnaire.

3 Responses to “Pew report on library usage”

  1. dwarlick said

    I agree! The real story here is not the study or the statistics, which, as you say, are largely inconclusive — but rather that the story is being told and its context for the telling. My wife ran across the story, because she still reads the newspaper ;-)

    To me, the more interesting question is not, “Are people going to continue to use libraries,” but “What must libraries become in order for people to continue to use them?”

  2. Miranda said

    “What must libraries become in order for people to continue to use them?”
    Well I agree with that, David. We are working on a survey at our little local library to find out how people are using the library in an effort to become what the community needs. What we are finding, here in our little town of 2000 odd people is that the library is not only a place where people go to get books, but a place where they go to meet other people and interact with the community in general, as well as use high-speed access to the Internet. Most of the township (Thetford, VT) is still using dial-up.
    And I, like your wife, still read the newspaper every day. I like the crackly paper effect.

  3. […] Miranda van Edu-it linkt naar de post van David Walick in haar post Pew report on library usage. Zij vergelijkt het artikel van de Raleigh News & Observer met een ander artikel van Computerworld over hetzelfde rapport. Waarbij het eerste artikel vooral de nadruk legt op het percentage bibliotheekbezoekers en het laatste rapport schrijft over wat er dan met computers gedaan wordt zodra gebruikers in de bibliotheek komen. Het onderzoek gaat niet om bibliotheekbezoek in het algemeen en dus is het bijzonder te noemen dat artikelen hier wel over gaan. […]

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