The Pew Research Center offers a list of seven surprises about libraries that they discovered in their recent studies.
1. People aged 65 and over are LESS LIKELY to visit a library than younger people.
2. The 10% of Americans who have never used a library still think libraries are good for their communities.
3. Only 4% of Americans are e-book only readers.
4. Readers of both digital and print formats prefer different formats in different situations.
5. Library users are MORE LIKELY to be book buyers and prefer to buy books than to borrow them.
6. There is a majority of people interested in personalized recommendations from their library, despite its impact on privacy.
7. There is no real consensus among Americans on how to handle the changing mix of print and digital collections.
For more data on each of these check out the Pew Research Center site.
Today, June 5th, is the anniversary of Edward Snowden’s release of information. To honor that, there is a call for people to fight back for privacy. As a librarian, whether you agree with what Snowden did or now, privacy is something we can all celebrate.
Reset the Net calls for people to try just one new tool that increases your privacy. Again, for librarians, this may be just the inspiration you need to start learning about privacy tools that you can then show your patrons. Libraries are about privacy. We stood for it even when it was vastly unpopular and when our patrons wanted their data shared in more robust ways. We used to look backwards standing in the way of open access to data, now though we are leaders in privacy. Let’s keep that up and teach ourselves about a new type of privacy, one that our patrons need to learn about themselves.
A study commissioned by the UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport has found that a visit to the library gives people the same boost as getting a $2282 raise. The study looked specifically at overall wellbeing and showed a significant association between frequent library use and reported wellbeing.
While I am here to trumpet the library aspect, a similar correlation was found with dancing, swimming and going to plays. I’d also make sure to remind everyone that this is an association and not causation. Further studies will need to be done to see how much causation exists (if any).
HuffPo has a great post on why you should be taking your child to the library. It begins with the author of the article talking about using the library as a child and learning to write her name just in order to get her own library card.
She then goes on to list five reasons to use the library as a parent with your child:
- Reading is brain food, and using the library leads to more reading.
- You gain access to more books and other materials than you could buy on your own.
- Your children’s librarian can tell you about books you would otherwise have missed.
- Libraries are not shushing places anymore, they are active and fun.
- A library card teaches responsibility.
I would add a couple more:
- You have access to a variety of free programs for your child to participate in right at their developmental level.
- You can meet other parents with children your age and have impromptu playdates right in the library.
- You can grab books and movies for yourself too!
I just can’t stop giggling at these fifties-style paperback covers converted to library humor. There are things here for everyone who has worked in a library:
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin states in his budget proposal that IMLS should be eliminated. As a Wisconsinite I am mortified. Thankfully though ALA has responded to his budget proposal with firm statistics:
In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities. Just blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents. For example, the state reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs at Wisconsin public libraries.
As librarians we are asked all the time about whether there is any real need for libraries in the modern day. I’m old enough to have been a librarian when the Internet came along and we got that same question then. We need to start making sure that our libraries are far more than book repositories, we must be seen as community centers, community builders and locally-focused organizations. We must forge connections, serve as the catalyst for local projects, and be the voice for the forgotten in the community.
Stepping down from the soap box.
Booktrust has done a study in the UK of 1500 adults and their reading habits. It turns out that on average, the richer the person’s background, the more likely they are to read.
- “More frequent readers tend to live in areas of lower deprivation and fewer children living in poverty.”
- Adults in the highest socio-economic background own twice as many books as those from the lowest backgrounds.
- 83% of those from the richest group also believe that reading improves their lives, compared to 72% from the lowest.
One of the more fascinating results of the survey show that people who read regularly tend to be more satisfied with life in general. They are happier and are more likely to feel their life is worthwhile.
So not only does reading educate and entertain, it can also make you happier! Now that’s something to trumpet as libraries.
Why libraries are important.
Here at Appleton, we have been discussing the future of libraries fairly intensely for over a year. What will our community need from us going forward? What will the library of the future need? How will it be different from today’s library?
It’s a discussion that every library needs to be having.
There are a couple of great articles out there about these issues:
Public Libraries Online has a great article from the director of the Skokie Public Library, Carolyn Anthony.
Will these new organizational units become as entrenched as the traditional technical services, adult services, and youth services? I hope not because we need to be much more nimble to respond to the continuing changes in our communities and in the broader environment in which public libraries operate.
Take a look at how Skokie is adapting to the future along with other libraries and you will be inspired.
The Atlantic Cities has a great one about the library of the future. I love this quote:
"If we can’t shine in this environment, in this economy, shame on us," says Corinne Hill, the director of library system in Chattanooga, Tennessee—a system that has thoroughly migrated into the current era.
Is that the way your library is approaching things? With optimism but also by moving forward and embracing the changes?
Libraries have been given the advice to tell their story for years and years. If we can manage to show our impact through stories, it humanizes what we do. Statistics are all fine and good, but unless we can make them into something worth telling others, they are dry and lifeless.
Marketing the Social Good has a great article about organizational storytelling. I appreciate that he doesn’t just say that it’s important, since we all know that. Instead, he walks through how to map out your organization’s story. He uses the framework of the hero’s story from Joseph Campbell and doing it like that allows the drama to enter, the story to really resonate.
This is the best and most concrete advice I have seen for creating the story of your organization that is repeatable and memorable.