In a study released Wednesday, Pew reports that an overwhelming majority of Americans value libraries. Ninety-five percent of Americans 16 and older say that libraries are important because of the opportunities and resources they provide, and because they promote literacy and a love of reading.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed more than 6,000 Americans ages 16 and older in July and August of this year in English and Spanish. The results show that most Americans believe libraries are important parts of their communities and are doing a good job at keeping up with technology.
Books remain the most important aspect of libraries -- far more than the Internet. Eighty percent of respondents rated books and media either "very important" or "somewhat important."
Following in descending order were librarian assistance (76%), having a quiet, safe place (75%), research resources (72%) and programs for youth (69%). Programs for adults and use of Internet, computers and printers tied at 58%; while more than half of respondents valued help in applying for government services (53%) and help finding and applying for a job (51%).
The report adds, "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." So, too, are those who lack Internet access at home.
Seventy-two percent of all Americans 16 and older have visited a public library in person or online in the last 12 months or live in a household where another family member or a child is an active recent user of the library.
And when Americans visit their libraries, they enjoy it: Ninety-one percent said they have never had a negative experience at the library. Even more -- 94% -- agreed that “public libraries are welcoming, friendly place.”