Pew Research recently released their annual report on attitudes of Americans towards their public libraries, Libraries 2016. Alongside a plethora of information detailing who is visiting public libraries and why, Pew also reported on those who are not visiting the library.
Among those surveyed, 1 in 5 (19%) said that they have never visited a public library or bookmobile. The demographic analysis of this data points to groups that the library could make a more concerted effort to reach. Someone who has never visited a library is most likely to be male (a quarter of all male respondents said they had never visited a library), part of a minority group (nearly a third of both black and Hispanic respondents), and have less education (29% of those with a high school degree or less). Members of other demographic groups also reported that they had never visited a library: about 1 in 10 of both those with college degrees (11%) and those in households earning $75,000 or more (12%).
Despite having never visited a library, respondents maintained a generally positive view of the libraries in their communities. More than half (56%) of non-users agree that closing the library would have a major impact on their communities, and about 1 in 5 (19%) think that it would have a major impact on their families. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of non-users thought that the library actually does provide them with the resources they need, so it is possible that they are still accessing library resources through friends and family.
The results of this survey revealed that the primary difference between frequent library users and non-users has to do with the information sources they trust. Respondents who had visited the library at least once in the past year were 39% more likely than non-users to agree “a lot” that libraries are a trustworthy information resource.