Pew recently released a fascinating report outlining American opinion on the public library. Summarized, the findings are overwhelmingly positive, and paint a picture of the local library as a space that meets key social needs. Besides being the go-to spot for a good mystery novel, of course.
A few key takeaways:
- 95% of Americans ages 16 and older agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;
- 95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;
- 94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;
- 81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.
Pew's overall summary:
Americans strongly value library services such as access to books and media; having a quiet, safe place to spend time, read, or study; and having librarians to help people find information. Other services, such as assistance finding and applying for jobs, are more important to particular groups, including those with lower levels of education or household income.
Stereotypically vulnerable or underprivileged groups are especially likely to benefit from library services:
Women, African-Americans and Hispanics, adults who live in lower-income households, and adults with lower levels of educational attainment are more likely than other groups to declare all the library services we asked about "very important." Adults ages 30-64 are also more likely than younger or older respondents to say many of the services are "very important," as are parents with minor children.
Please be sure to read the full report. There's much to glean culturally, and as fodder for ministry strategy.
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