Pew Internet & American Life Project: Libraries

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is an amazing resource that tracks trends in Internet use and its affect on society.

From the mission: "The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit 'fact tank' that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the internet and how their activities affect their lives."

An offshoot of Pew Internet & American Life is an arm focused solely on libraries. Pew researches how society uses libraries, including how the Internet has impacted library use.

In January 2013, Pew released a report that found "in a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries... many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age."

In addition, "[t]he availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:

  • 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.
  • 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.
  • 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries."

Personally, I am elated to see that the public still views reference librarians as a very important service of libraries. The Pew project is wonderful, open access research for all libraries to evaluate services based on American public opinion and use statistics, as well as how the digital age continues to influence libraries.

Pew Internet & American Life: Library Services in the Digital Age


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