Pew report released on Thursday, the topper to three years of research into the changing role of these institutions, notes that library goers aren’t the niche group you might expect. Some 30 percent of Americans ages 16 or older are “highly engaged” with public libraries (falling into the “Library Lovers” and “Information Omnivores” categories), while another 39 percent slot into “medium engagement” groups (“Solid Center” and “Print Traditionalists”).
“A common narrative is that Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technology, but the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also highly engaged with new technologies,” Pew informs us.
Libraries are probably keeping pace, at least in part, because the definition of a library itself has changed. Much as newspapers, magazines and book publishers have come to realize — though not nearly quickly enough — thinking of yourself foremost as a purveyor of printed material is a strategic if not fatal mistake in the 21st century.
We’re all in the information business. It’s the consumer who gets to decide on the medium.
“Print books are still central to Americans’ library use, just as they remain central in Americans’ overall reading habits,” the report said.
Because a lot has changed about the way we find, consume and interact with information in the last quarter century — but not everything has.
To see the full report, if for no other reason than to learn what an Information Omnivore is, click here.