On March 13, the Pew Research Center published a “typology” that profiled Americans’ information- and tech-oriented behaviors, and their associated library use. Drawn from data gathered in a recent survey, the report goes beyond merely describing the basic library usage of various user groups, explained Pew research associate Kathryn Zickuhr, the main author of the report. “[The report looks] at what traits go along with higher—or lower—levels of library engagement, and what people with certain library habits and views have in common with each other.”
At the recently concluded Public Library Association conference in Indianapolis, Ind., the report was greeted warmly, and librarians suggested that it could be helpful in creating better, more targeted library campaigns. The good news: more than two-thirds of Americans are engaged with public libraries: with some 30% “highly engaged” and an additional 39% falling into “medium” engagement categories. The report found that people who have extensive “economic, social, technological, and cultural resources” are also more likely to use and value libraries. And, despite a widely perceived information overload in the digital age, most Americans do not feel overwhelmed by information today. The not-so-good news: those who do feel a sense of “information overload,” and could benefit most from tapping their local librarian, are actually the least likely to use libraries.
The report is the latest in a string of library-related research surveys from Pew, and is part of the final leg of a three-phase effort undertaken by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project to gather data on American library use.