Libraries continue to transform to meet society’s changing needs, and most of the respondents in an independent national survey said that libraries are important to the community. But school libraries continue to feel the combined pressures of recession-driven financial tightening and federal neglect, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, and school libraries in some districts and some states still face elimination or de-professionalization of their programs. These and other library trends of the past year are detailed in the American Library Association’s 2014 State of America’s Libraries report.
Key findings include:
- Most of those surveyed agreed that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading. The same number agreed because libraries provide tech resources and access to materials, and a majority view libraries as leaders in technology.
- While the overall number of visitors to a physical library or bookmobile dropped five percentage points from 2012 to 2013, there was an equally significant increase in the number of users of library websites. Particular increases were noted among African Americans, Hispanics, those age 16 to 29, and those with some college education
- More than three fourths of the survey’s respondents want libraries to play an active role in public life. Seventy-seven percent want libraries to coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to children, and the same proportion want free early literacy programs for children. People look to libraries to help fix struggling schools and to help children learn to navigate new technologies and become critical thinkers.
American Library Association (2014). 2014 State of America’s libraries: A report from the American Library Association. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.