Released: December 20, 2012

Reading Habits in Different Communities

Part 6: Library Use Across Communities

By , and

People in different communities sometimes have different connections to their local library. Suburban and urban residents are especially likely to have library cards and place value on the local library. Suburban residents are the most likely to have borrowed print or audiobooks from the library in the past 12 months.  On other aspects of library use, including using the library to access special databases, historical documents or archives, newspaper articles, or magazines/journals, or to get research help, or to borrow e-books, the residents of different communities do not differ.

Among those who have borrowed an e-book from the library in the past 12 months, views about the quality of the selection of e-books at the local library and problems encountered when trying to borrow e-books also does not differ across community type.  Across all community types, there is a pervasive lack of awareness that libraries loan e-books.  Roughly  two thirds (63%) of residents in each type of community say they do not know if their public library loans e-books; two in 10 say their library does.  

The charts below sketch out some of the differences among communities about their local libraries:

Respondents with more limited experience and knowledge of e-reading (those who are not e-readers and have not borrowed e-books from the public library) were asked how likely they would be to use different types of classes to learn about e-book related features of the public library experience. Urban residents appear to be the most interested in such activities. Urban residents are more likely than those in rural communities to say they would be likely to take advantage of classes on how to use handheld reading devices (34% vs. 27%), while rural residents are most likely to say they would not be likely to use such classes (71% vs. 64%).

Urban and suburban residents are also more likely than rural residents to say they would be likely to use e-book readers already loaded with books if they were made available at the public library (53% urban vs. 45% suburban, 38% rural).