Library data geeks rejoice! Pew Research recently issued its third stage of research about public libraries, this time presenting a typology that clusters Americans into certain groups based on their connection to libraries. The result is a rich and complex portrait of how public libraries fit into people’s lives—we highly recommend reading the full report! To briefly highlight some of the findings, we’ll focus on the highest engaged library users and non-library users.
Three in 10 adults—Library Lovers and Information Omnivores—are highly engaged with public libraries. They’re active community participants, heavy readers, and highly value library services. And they offer one of the most compelling facts about this Pew report: This group of people also includes some of the highest technology users of the sample group. Demographically, this group tends to be younger, female, and well-educated. Members of this group were also likely to be parents, students, and job-seekers—perfect life stages for using those storytimes, resume classes, and research databases.
What about that 14% who have never used a public library? The Distant Admirers (10% of the population) still view libraries positively and feel library services are important to them and their families. The Off the Grid group (4% of the population) is quite distant from the library—although three-fourths of them recognize it would be easy for them to visit a library in person—but this parallels their disengagement with their communities, neighbors, news, and technology.
And exciting news: Pew plans to release a library user type quiz widget for libraries to embed on their websites and capture data on how their community uses the library and compare it to the national picture.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.