Library Services in the Digital Age
Patrons embrace new technologies – and would welcome more. But many still want printed books to hold their central place
Summary of findings
The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans' reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans' attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries' digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.
The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:
- 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a "very important" service libraries provide.
- 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a "very important" service of libraries.
Who reads e-books
In the book-reading population, those most likely to read e-books include those with college or graduate degrees, those who live in households earning more than $75,000, and those whose ages fall between 30 and 49.