Libraries & the Big Picture: Facts, Trends, & Next!

Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Associate, Internet Project, Pew Research Center
Marydee Ojala, Editor-in-Chief, Online Searcher magazine
Stephen Abram, Principal, Lighthouse Consulting Inc., Dysart & Jones Associates

Slides from Kathryn’s presentation

Pew Research Center: New data from the Pew Research Center on public library engagement

Pew’s Library Project

Twitter: @kzickhur @pewinternet @pewresearch

Pew Research

Pew Internet Project

About our libraries research: State of reading; library services; typology

Typology –> Report Link

Based on: public library use; experiences at libraries; views/perceptions of libraries

Broader context: info & tech habits; other community activities (lots of correlations made)


  • High: library lovers; information omnivores
  • Medium: Solid Center; Print Traditionalists
  • Low: Not for Me; Young & Restless; Rooted & Roadblocked
  • None: Distant Admirers; Off the Grid

High & Medium Engagement Levels

  1. Library Lovers: Frequent library use; high levels of appreciation/familiarity; includes many parents, students, and job seekers; tend to be younger with high level of education (10% of population)
  2. Information Omnivores: high levels of library use, but visits are less frequent than Library Lovers’; highest rates of technology use; highest levels of education, employment, household income — high rates of tech ownership — lots of comfort with lots of different types of information (20% of population)
  3. Solid Center: Medium engagement; about half have used a public library in the past year; most view libraries positively; similar to general US population (30% of population)
  4. Print Traditionalists: Similar to solid center, except tend to live farther away from libraries (61% in rural areas); highest proportion of rural, white Southern (9% of population)

Low Engagement groups

  1. Not for Me: strikingly less positive views of public libraries’ roles in the community; more likely to have had negative experiences in libraries (4% of population); not a group that doesn’t need libraries — they don’t find libraries relevant to them or their communities
  2. Young & Restless: Relatively young group: Median age is 33; few have lived in their neighborhoods for very long; only 15% know where the nearest public library is located [not representative to younger generations, though]. (7% of population)They don’t have libraries on their radar…
  3. Rooted & Roadblocked: Generally views public libraries positively, but many face hurdles in their lives; tend to be older; many are living with disability or have experienced a recent illness in their family (7% of population); have technological difficulties or finding information

No Engagement (14%)

  1. Distant Admirers: No personal library use; Many (40%) say other family members use libraries; Most view libraries quite positively; many also say that library services are important to them and their families; tend to be older; often live in lower-income households (10% of population)
  2. Off the Grid: No personal library use; little exposure ot libraries overall; may be less engaged with community activities and social life; many live in rural areas; just 56% use the internet; low household incomes & low levels of education (only one in ten has graduated from college (4% of the population)

Library engagement typology

  • relationships to libraries are part of American’s broader resource networks
  • library use vs importance; wealthier people are more likely to USE libraries. People with lower household incomes/education RELY on libraries.
  • Groups may surprise you

Coming soon: Library engagement quiz: what kind of library user are you?

National data isn’t substitute for local level data. Important to also understand your local community.

What do Americans want from libraries?

  • More activities, more separate spaces…and print books, quiet
  • Convenience & tech (apps & e-books, kiosks)…and closer relationships with librarians; personalized service. Personalized connections with librarians.

IFLA Trends Report (shared at tables in session) — Marydee Ojala

Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide — September 2013

  1. New technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information — the world’s information at your fingertips, but what can you do with it? info lit; mobile access; info providers’ business models; copyright
  2. Online education will democratise and disrupt global learning. MOOCs; non-formal learning pathways (what does this mean for self education); open access; network effects. If online education is free, then how much is it really worth?
  3. The boundaries of privacy and data protection will be redefined. Global borderless Internet; profiling of individuals and groups; govt pressure & intervention; levels of trust (including of public institutions); permanent digital footprint. Who’s profiting from your personal information?
  4. Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new voices and groups. Traditional political parties weakened; status of women; empower diaspora, migrant communities; simulated virtual environments; evidence-based policy-making. Are you ready for cyber politics? [#ksleg hashtag over the last 7 days…… ]
  5. The global information environment will be transformed by new technologies. When you your phone, your car and your wristwatch know where you are at all times, who runs your life? Mobile devices; artificial intelligence; 3D printing; global info economy; Internet of Things.

Implications? For libraries? for info providers? for you personally?

Continue discussion at IFLA trends site

More happened in this session… but I had to leave.