The always observant Stephen Abram points out that the new Pew Internet & American Life Project Report on Libraries has arrived and it is a MUST READ for libraries. The part that stood out to me? Part 4: What people want from their libraries. If we’re not listening to our communities, what are we doing?
Particulary interesting to me (being a librarian involved with serving Youth) was the following:
Almost three-quarters (74%) of Americans think it is “very important” for public libraries to provide programs and classes for children and teens. Another 21% consider these programs “somewhat important,” while 2% say they are “not too important” and 2% say they are “not at all important.”
Some 92% of Hispanics and 86% of blacks consider these classes to be “very important” to the community, making them significantly more than whites (68%) to say this. Additionally, women (79%) are more likely than men (68%) to consider this resource “very important,” as are Americans in households making less than $75,000 per year (79%) compared with those in households earning more (65%).
Parents in our focus groups almost uniformly appreciated children’s programming at their local libraries. Some parents said that they would appreciate extended hours at libraries so their children could spend time there in a monitored environment; others wished there were more activities on weekends, instead of during the work day.
Many librarians in the online canvassing wrote about their experiences creating “hangout” spaces and activities for teens, citing importance of keeping teens engaged with the library as they grow older. “Interacting with children and young adults at their schools is an important aspect of encouraging these groups to use the library at a young age,” one wrote. “These groups may be more likely to use the library as adults if they are comfortable there as children.”
Finally, keeping these spaces apart from the main reading room areas of the library seemed to be an important point for many of our focus group members, as many of them complained about increased noise levels during our sessions.
Thanks for sharing this Stephen!