The characteristics of 21st century education have been articulated by many and continue to evolve. However, in order to achieve within this developing context and beyond, it is accepted that students need: Reading literacy Information literacy Technological literacy Skills for personal knowledge building Oral literacy and numeracy Research evidence from the USA, Canada and Australia shows that where school libraries are resourced effectively and managed by a qualified librarian with educational expertise, all of the above are fostered and student academic achievement on standardized tests is higher than in schools where these conditions do not exist.
Twenty-five percent who went to the library learned about political or cultural organizations or leisure activities taking place in the local community. More than 20% went to the library with friends or colleagues to work together on a common assignment or a leisure activity. Seventeen percent used the Internet at the library to contact friends via e-mail, to chat, or to participate in discussion groups, etc. Sixteen percent used the library to learn more about local matters, social or political issues, etc., that they are involved in. Fourteen percent participated in organized meetings, such as author's nights, lectures, meetings with politicians, etc. Ten percent used the library as a place to meet family or friends before going together to the movies, into the city, to do shopping, etc. (p.19)
The National Library of Finland coordinated a customer survey for users of research and special libraries as well as public libraries in 2010. The first national online questionnaire was conducted in 2006. The number of responses rose by 56% compared to the previous survey. In the public library sector, over 80% of the users agreed that the library services had supported their cultural and literary interests. Around 80% of the university and university applied sciences library users thought that libraries had helped to improve the quality of their work and studies, the same was true for 71% of the special library respondents. In all libraries, the staff's willingness to provide assistance was one of the most important factors affecting the quality of service. In terms of their service attitude, libraries were assessed as having succeeded as well or even slightly better than two years ago.
The benefits go far beyond simply enjoyment and amusement, to being an essential form of relaxation for some people, helping to relieve stress, providing a break from the pressures of everyday life, and assisting others with the treatment of an illness. (p.138) The opportunities offered by libraries, in addition to providing access to books and other recreational materials such as videos, further enhance people's leisure time by giving them the chance to socialize and by providing access to activities many others in society take for granted because they can afford them. (p.139)
The National Library of New Zealand found a 3.5:1 benefit-cost ratio in their national bibliographic database through use of a CM (choice modeling) survey. (p.441)
Another CV (contingent valuation) survey of public libraries... has recently been reported by Svanhild Aabo, who estimated that Norwegian public libraries represent, on average, a 4:1 benefit-cost ratio. (p.441)
One of the most notable examples of a CVM [contingent valuation method] application was undertaken by consultants employed by the British Library, who found that the overall benefit of its services to the British public was around 4.4 times the funding the library recieves from the government. (p.440-1)