The New Library Patron #il2013 #internetlibrarian

The New Library Patron

Lee Rainie, Pew Internet and American Life Project, keynote


1. Libraries are deeply appreciated.  

91% say libraries are important to community, 76% say important to themselves and their families.

75-80% says borrowing books, reference librarians, computer access, and quiet study spaces are important.

You should do a touchdown dance about this!

People doing research and getting entertainment, but also getting online info, looking for and applying for jobs.

David Weinberger has written about libraries.

2. Libraries have a PR problem.

People say they don’t know enough about the library’s services.

People probably don’t know about the hospital or the mayor’s office either.  And they may think they don’t know enough, because libraries are doing lots of new things.

OTOH, these are our fans.  We have lots of ways we can touch their lives. About 53% used the library in the last year.  (The numbers who think we’re important is much higher.)

3. Library patrons are diverse, but there are some groups removed from libraries

More likely to be women than men, under 65, educated, parents.

Moms!  Find mommy bloggers in your town.

Some who are removed:

Those whose families don’t use the library.

Those who didn’t go to the library as kids.

9% don’t know where the nearest library is.

Coming from Pew: What kind of library user are you?  There will be a widget libraries can put on their web pages.

4. Patrons’ “wish list” for libraries is diverse and undifferentiated

Question about moving some books out of the library to make room for tech center:

20% yes: less-active users, African-Americans, Latinos, less education, no computer.

39% maybe: younger (18-29), know less about libraries, whites

36% no: heavy library users, over 50, higher income, parents, computer owners, book readers (including e-books)

“Innovator’s Dilemma”: hard to desert best customers.  May need to set up parallel institution.

Asked people if they were likely to use new services (about 1/3 yes, 1/3 maybe, 1/3 no)

– Online ask-a-librarian
– Cell app to access library services
– Tech “petting zoo” of gadgets
– Cell GPS to navigate library
– Kiosks (a la Redbox) around town to do library checkouts
– Personalized recommendations (a la Amazon)
– Classes on using e-books
– Preloaded e-books

5. Libraries have a mandate to intervene in community life

Parents would like libraries to work more closely with schools.

Early literacy programs for preschool, including computer literacy.

Areas libraries could address:

– Technology skills training
– Pre-school programs
– After school activities
– ESL courses
– Lifelong learning/credentialing competency
– Gap in media ecosystem: Community, civic information/curation
– Help for small business, entrepreneurs, non-profits
– Serendipity agents of discovery

Be not afraid.


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