2013 Libraries in the Digital Age

New reading data from the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

October 02, 2013

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently released the findings of its latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, conducted in July 2012.

nea[1] copy

As of mid-2012, the survey found that 58% of all American adults ages 18 and older had engaged in “voluntary reading” within the past year. Here’s how that “Voluntary Reading” category breaks down:

Overall, 58% of American adults (or roughly 136 million Americans) did at least one of these types of reading in the previous year. Our own research has found that 75% of Americans ages 16 and older read a book of any kind in 2012, including books read for school or work. Read More »

Who has home broadband? New data and resources

August 28, 2013

In case you missed it, we just released our latest data on home broadband adoption among American adults:

The report also found that demographic groups with the highest rates of home broadband adoption continue to be college graduates, adults under age 50, and adults living in households earning at least $50,000, as well as whites and adults living in urban or suburban areas. Read More »

  1. For our broadband definition, we asked people who said they used the internet at home the following question: “At home, do you connect to the Internet through a dial-up telephone line, or do you have some other type of connection, such as a DSL-enabled phone line, a cable TV modem, a wireless connection, or a fiber optic connection such as FIOS?”

Our latest research on teens and technology

August 22, 2013

Want to know how many teens use Tumblr? How many friends the average teen has on Facebook? How all that texting affects their writing skills?Teens and tech

If so, you’re in luck—we’ve published several new reports on teens (ages 12-17) and technology over the past few months, with lots of great findings based on our nationally representative surveys as well as insights from in-person focus groups.

Teens, technology, and privacy

Read More »

The science of “the smell of books”

June 19, 2013

“Age appears to be best in four things—old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” (Source)

Discarded Books, Recovered Nostalgia
By Kerry Mansfield. From “Discarded Books, Recovered Nostalgia” – New York Times

Last year I wrote about the smell of books, and the peculiar attachment that even e-book readers often have to that particular physical property. Today I ran across a post on Smithsonian Magazine’s blog that delves deeper into the science behind print’s smell:

As a book ages, the chemical compounds used—the glue, the paper, the ink–begin to break down. And, as they do, they release volatile compounds—the source of the smell. A common smell of old books, says the International League for Antiquarian Booksellers, is a hint of vanilla: “Lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent.”

Whether their digital counterparts “smell like burned fuel” (as author Ray Bradbury put it), the bouquet of old books is certainly hard to replicate; the Smithsonian post quotes a scientist involved in a 2009 study describing the smell of old books as “[a] combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness,” sounding more like something you might find in a wine cellar than a library. Read More »

One-third of adults (and half of parents) now own a tablet computer

June 11, 2013

We just released a new report yesterday showing that a third (34%) of all American adults ages 18 and older now own a tablet computer. This includes almost half (49%) of adults ages 35-44 and 50% of parents with minor children living at home.

We have received some questions about how parents are using devices such as tablets and smartphones with their children—a fascinating topic, as parents seem to have a complex relationship with technology and its role in parenting. We know, for instance, that even though parents are more likely to read e-books than adults without minor children at home, the vast majority (81%) of parents say that it is important to them that their children are exposed to print books.

A new report (PDF) by researchers at Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development further explores parents’ views of their children’s media use—specifically parents of children from birth to eight years old. (Here’s a Chicago Tribune summary of the report for time-pressed readers.) Some highlights: Read More »

In a digital age, parents value printed books for their kids

May 28, 2013

Note: This piece is cross-posted on the Pew Research Center’s new blog, Fact Tank. You can follow Fact Tank on Twitter at @FactTank.

Parents who have minor children at home are a relatively tech-savvy group. They are more likely than other adults to have computers, internet access, smartphones, and tablet computers. (This relatively high tech use may be due to the fact that parents with minor children living at home tend to also be younger than other adults.) They are also more likely than adults without children to read e-books.

09 type of books read

But as parents adopt new reading habits for themselves on electronic devices, the data show that print books remain important when it comes to their children. Read More »

Children, libraries, and reading

May 16, 2013

Family Place program, spring 2013, Half Moon Bay Library, Week 2 - San Mateo County Library
Source: San Mateo County Library (Flickr)

As this week is Children’s Book Week, we took a closer look at our data on children and reading from our recent report on parents, children, libraries, and reading. To begin with, most parents read to their children regularly: About half of all parents with children under 12 at home say they read to their child every day, and another quarter say they do so a few times a week. Read More »

Slideshow: Tech trends, library stats, and how teens do research

May 15, 2013

Last week, I gave a presentation at the Westchester Library Association’s annual conference that touched on a lot of our recent findings on library use, as well as a broad overview of technology adoption among adults and teens and a quick look at how teens do research in the digital age.  While all of those topics deserve their own blog post, I wanted to put up the slides from the talk and spotlight the reports that cover these topics in more detail.

We also have a few related reports coming up in the next month or so – including one about how teens and young adults use libraries – so stay tuned!

View the slides here.

Recent reports on teens and young adults:

Read More »

Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading: Select quotes from parents and library staff

May 01, 2013

In addition to the statistics included in our report, we also asked parents and librarians from around the country about their thoughts on various library services for parents and children. The quotes below are from in-person and online focus groups of library patrons and staff, as well as an online questionnaire of library staff members. More information can be found in the full report.

How parents use libraries

Many of the parents in our in-person focus groups said they were introduced to libraries by their parents or by their schools. In general, they said they had very positive memories of their early library experiences:

“My parents were real big on [the library]. It was a treat for us, twice a week after church . . . You behave, you [get] to go to the library and get a book, get two books if you’re real good, read them that week and bring them back.”

In addition, many parents said they had very positive feelings about their libraries and library staff. However, many often wished that they knew more about what was happening at their library — “there’s so much good stuff going on but no one tells anybody,” one said. Read More »

Updates to our research timeline

April 11, 2013

Curious about what libraries research we’ve done—and what’s up next?

You’re in luck: We’ve updated our research timeline with links to all our libraries-related reports so far, and well as a more detailed description of our upcoming releases. (Our next report, which studies parents and children at libraries, will be out in early May.)

Click here to see the updated timeline, or check out the full list of all our libraries reports and other publications.

You can also sign up for our email alerts in order to be notified of future reports.

“Libraries of the future”

April 04, 2013

Libraries of the Future  - Infographic

LibraryScienceList.com made this neat infographic based on Kristen Purcell’s keynote address for the 2012 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference last June. In case you want to dig into the data behind the slides, here are some (updated) links to the types of data found in the presentation and infographic:

Libraries

 Internet and technology use

“What should I read next?”

March 18, 2013

It’s a question that librarians, booksellers, and others have heard often, perhaps even more so at a time when the output and availability of the written word has never been higher. And it’s a question that new book-recommendation sites such as Bookish and BookScout are trying to answer, joining a plethora of communities and services already trying to navigate the tricky task of helping you decide which book to pick up next.

The problem of wading through so many options is not confined to books, of course; Netflix famously challenged developers to improve its movie recommendation engine, Amazon suggests products based on previous purchases, and Pandora builds personalized “radio” stations with tracks it hopes you’ll love.

But when it comes to books, at least, the majority of Americans turn to their friends and family to decide what they’ll read next. According to last year’s e-borrowing report, the majority (64%) of Americans ages 16 and older said they get book recommendations from family members, friends, or co-workers. Another 28% get them from online bookstores or other websites, 23% hear about books from bookstore staff, and 19% get recommendations from librarians or library websites. Read More »

Should libraries shush?

February 06, 2013

Last week, Salon published a piece by Laura Miller entitled “Bring back shushing librarians,” focusing on some of the findings from our recent report on library services. “[T]here’s a lot to be said for that shushing,” Miller writes, adding, “I’ve long believed that one of the most precious resources libraries offer their patrons is simple quiet.”

The piece has sparked a bit of a debate on a couple blogs and in social media about what people want from libraries. So should libraries shush, or not? Read More »

Innovative library services “in the wild”

January 29, 2013

Our new report takes a close look not only at how Americans are using public libraries, but also what sort of services and programming they think libraries should offer — and what they say they would use in the future.

For this last point, we asked about a range of potential offerings, including online “ask a librarian”-type research service, mobile library apps, library kiosks in the community, and pre-loaded e-readers available for checkout. A breakdown of these ideas’ overall popularity is included below; more information is included in the report, and tables with demographic breakdowns for each item can be found in the appendix.

pew-internet-2013-01-22-lib-services-4-06

But we also wanted to include illustrations of some of these more innovative services, to see what they look like on the ground. To that end, we’ve collected examples of many of the types of services mentioned in the report, as well as some “fun and funky” services that we’ve seen pop up at libraries across the county. Read More »

Other library links and news around the web

January 25, 2013

While we hope you’ve had a chance to read our new report on library services that just came out this week, there are some other great links out there that you should be sure to check out.

OverDrive statistics

OverDrive released some of its major usage and collection statistics for the past year. In 2012:

Public library use in 2010

IMLS published the results of its 2010 Public Library Survey. Among the findings:

Read More »