Library use grows among adults, children and students
Public library use continues to grow. The most recent comprehensive federal data available show that the number of visits per year to U.S. public libraries increased 61 percent in the period 1994-2004. Public library visits were up about 3 percent in 2004 from the previous year. Circulation increased 28 percent over the decade and was up 2.3 percent in 2004 from 2003, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Circulation of children’s materials in U.S. public libraries increased 44 percent from 1994 to 2004, and attendance in children’s programs increased 42 percent. In school libraries, the number of people served increased more than 5 percent from 1999-2000 to 2003-2004, despite huge reductions in professional and other staff, according to NCES data.
Despite the continued (and well-publicized) growth in the number and variety of online resources for research and learning on-site, use of nation’s academic libraries and their collections grew from 880,188,296 library visits in 2002 to more than a billion (1,007,174,740) in 2004, according to the NCES — an increase of more than 14 percent. Circulation was up 6 percent, to more than 200 million items.
While all materials collected by academic libraries increased, the number of e-books in these libraries jumped more than 68 percent from 2002 to 2004.
An Association of College and Research Libraries membership survey released in May 2006 highlights top concerns, including an increased emphasis on digitizing collections, preserving digital archives and improving methods of data storage and retrieval; development of a skill set that will continue to evolve in response to the needs and expectations of the changing populations (student and faculty) served; increased demand for faster and greater access to services; more debates in higher education about intellectual property; and increased demand for technology-related services that will require additional funding.
College Students Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, released by OCLC in 2006, found that of all users, college students have the highest rate of library use and broadest use of library resources, both physical and electronic.
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