These are the results of the library usage survey I created. I received 74 responses overall.
- Over 70% of respondents visited the library in their own time within the last twelve months and own a library card.
- Nearly 80% said they used the public library to borrow/return a book and 35% said they go to study.
- 78% said they were fairly or very satisfied with the service they received.
- When asked how the public library could be improved, 44% said improved opening hours and 44% said improved book stock. This shows that digital resources are not the most important requirement for library users.
- Only 7% said that the public library is not at all important to them.
When a person thinks of a library, they tend to think of, well, books. But for one library in Texas, that idea is so last century. It seems Texas just gets really creative with libraries, I guess. Now a new, bookless library has opened in the San Antonio, and so far it seems surprisingly popular. The library is on track to exceed 100,000 visitors in its first year. In fact, it can apparently be difficult for patrons to find an open iMac once the nearby high school lets out, and half of its e-readers (which each hold up to five books) are checked out at any given time.
Overall, this library, called BiblioTech, actually sounds pretty awesome — even if it is modeled after an Apple Store. But moving past the employee uniforms, the library is located in a economically depressed neighborhood where most families don’t have WiFi at home. The area also doesn’t have a bookstore, something residents have been vocal about in the past. Yet in spite of the hard economic times in the surrounding area, none of the e-readers BiblioTech has checked out have failed to be returned.
The biggest appeal of a library like this seems to be the price tag. Though the library purchases e-books for the same price as hard copy books, the library itself came at a fraction of the cost. Instead of needing to construct a building capable of holding thousands of physical books, the city was able to move the library into an old strip mall that they currently share with a county government building.
So is this the way of the future? Who knows. I find it hard to believe bookless libraries will become the norm within our lifetimes, but it’s hard to deny the benefits, especially for cities that can’t afford to construct a traditional library. BiblioTech is so far the world’s only public library with no books whatsoever, but they’ve already seen visitors from all over the world come to take a peek and maybe import the idea back home. So who knows what the future might bring.
For San Antonio, hopefully this library — the only one in the county — will prove a positive force for the community. San Antonio is the U.S.’s seventh largest city, but ranks 60th in literacy, according to the census. So even though the thought of a library with nothing but screens makes me personally kind of sad, it’s terrific that the city has been able to supply some much needed books and Internet – not to mention an awesome community space – all for just a fraction of the cost.
Good luck BiblioTech!
A Pew study out Thursday suggests library users tend to be pillars of the community, with good ties to their neighbors and positive lives
According to Pew, the more people are “engaged” with their public library, the more they tend to feel connected to their community as a whole. Conversely, unengaged people tend to have “fewer ties to their neighbors, lower feelings of personal efficacy [feeling empowered to change their community], and less engagement with other cultural activities.”
While the study does not purport to measure personal happiness, there’s a significant crossover between the traits of library users and traits of people who demonstrate higher levels of personal happiness: a sense of connectedness and empowerment in one’s community. Library users “are also more likely to say that they like their communities and that they would call their communities good or excellent places to live,” Pew Research Associate Kathryn Zickuhr told TIME.
Though library users share traits with positive, happy people, the poll results say nothing of causation. “It’s not necessarily that people use libraries and then find they’re happy,” Zickuhr said. It’s just that library users tend to be more open to the world. “People who have more access to economic, social, technological resources are also more likely to use libraries as part of their networks,” she said. Library usage tends to be a part of a bigger picture, in other words, in which a person who goes to the library also tends to be one who spends time at the park, takes part in civic organizations, and embraces new technologies.
Yes, that’s right: people who love going to what may be, historically at least, the preeminent symbol of a by-gone ink-and-paper world are also more likely to do their shopping online or run their lives with smartphone apps. And those people, contrary to the popular image of the stressed-out, phone-addicted technopath, tend to feel less daunted by the quantity of information zipping around in the information age. Only 18% of Americans say they feel overloaded by information today—down from 27% in 2006—and those same people are the least likely to visit a library.
Maybe the rusty old convention of having a community institution that makes information accessible counts for something after all.
To get some valuable first-hand research and insight into library use by my friends, family and a wider audience, I’ve created this survey. It’s a mere 10 questions and will greatly aid my research development.
Could anyone who lives in the UK please take part in the survey and help out a final year student. It’s important for me to get a wide and varied response so have shared this on my social networking sites and to bloggers, authors etc.
Once I’ve got a good amount of responses, I will share my results on here. Thank you.