Released: December 12, 2013

Americans Still Care About Their Public Libraries

The public library in my hometown has been closed and undergoing reconstruction since 2011. This hasn’t much affected me, because somewhere around the time that I acquired a taste for coffee, I began eschewing libraries in favor of retail bookstores. Browsing at Barnes & Noble with a latte in hand is more pleasurable; ordering from Amazon seems more efficient.

But a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday reveals, somewhat surprisingly, given stories about the “death of print” as well as the scant resources sometimes devoted to these establishments, that the majority of Americans strongly value their public libraries. When asked whether the closing of their local public library would have an impact on their communities, 90 percent of American adults (ages 16 years and older) said yes, it would, and 63 percent said the impact would be “major.” When asked if library closures would affect them and their families personally, only 32 percent responded the way I would have—with a “no.”


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