Social Impact

Majority of all adult age groups use the public library

Reported household usage of the public library varies by the respondent’s age group. Eighty-eight percent of 18–34 year olds (born 1976 to 1992) reported that they and/or someone in their household used a public library in 2010, prior to their interview. Among those 35–54 (born 1956 to 1975) 84% of households report public library usage. A lower percentage of households (70%) used the public library among those aged 55 or older (born before 1956).

All education groups feel public libraries are important in every community

There appears to be no statistically significant difference between these education groups in their feeling of the importance of having a public library in every community. All groups feel this is important.

Majority feel having a library in every community is important

Ninety-five percent of users and 83% of non-users feel having a library in every community is either somewhat or very importantOverall 80% of non-users and 93% of users felt that public library support should remain the same or be increased.

Higher income households use libraries more frequently

There is a higher use [of public libraries] in all other combinations of users for households with $30,000 or higher annual incomes. 

Public Libraries are very important to communities

Seventy-eight percent of respondents reported that they or someone in their household used a public library in person or online in the year prior to the October/November survey (2010).Sixty-nine percent of respondents felt it was “very important” to have a public library in every community and almost 93% felt it was “somewhat important" or "very important”. Only 7% felt that having a public library in every community was "not very" or" not at all important."  

Minnesotans feel public libraries are important

The main conclusion from this survey is that Minnesotans feel public libraries are important and that their support should be maintained or increased.

School librarians offer information literacy and technology instruction

School librarians offer information literacy and technology instruction that is crucial for 21st century learners, particularly marginalized at-risk learners who may not have access to resources and computers in their homes. Furthermore, school libraries can provide students equal access to print and digital resources to help close the gap between privileged and at-risk students

Public libraries can help high schools prepare students for college or 21st century careers

Public libraries can help high schools prepare students for college or 21st century careers. High schools are struggling to provide the skills that students need if they are to achieve success in college and in today’s workplace. In a 2006 poll of over 400 companies, researchers found that “new entrants to the U.S. workforce generally disappoint those who would like to give them their first job. High school-educated workers lack the level of ability employers seek in everything from writing and work ethic to oral communication.” The most important skills cited by employers fall into the area of applied or “soft” skills: professionalism and work ethic, oral and written communications, teamwork and collaboration, and critical thinking and problem solving. These skills are also essential to college success.

Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons

Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons who continue to visit and utilize the public library at increasingly greater rates. In a 2007 poll, it was found that one-third of teens between the ages of 12–18 visited the public library ten times a year or more. Seventy-eight percent of teens who consider themselves “regular library visitors” borrow books and other materials for personal use from the public library on a frequent basis. Computer and online games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons. Libraries’ response to gaming demonstrates the institutions’ flexibility and willingness to innovate in their response to changing audience interests. The Public Library Association’s 2007 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report, which tracked young adult service trends in public libraries, found that nearly 90% of the public libraries surveyed offer young adult services; over half (51.9%) employ at least one full-time equivalent staff person dedicated to fostering young adult programs and services. Compare this to 1994, when just 11% of libraries had a young adult librarian; 58% of librarians considered the lack of staff a barrier to increasing services for young adults and 61% indicated that insufficient services, resources, and programs were moderate or major barriers to increasing services and resources for young adults.

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