The Changing Mission of Libraries

By Christine Volker

In April, the Pew Research Center came out with an interesting study on “Libraries and Learning.”

Their national survey of library users and community members showed the following highlights:

  • 71% of those surveyed agreed that libraries serve the learning and educational needs of their communities well/pretty well. The percentage was even more positive among women, African-Americans and Hispanics.
  • Anywhere from 12% to 50% of community members don’t know what else their library offers beyond books. (Examples: e-books, job and career-related online courses, with % varying among each).
  • Most recent library users identify themselves as a “lifelong learner.” They cite benefits such as feeling more capable, wellrounded, getting new perspecitves on their lives, making friends, feeling part of the community.
  • 12% of those surveyed didn’t know if/how library helps the educational needs of their community and their family.

McGraw Hill – Shifting Mission of Libraries Today

Their article makes clear that gone are the old days when libraries only stocked printed books. Now they need to offer ebooks, Audio books, video, programming, makerspaces, training and more. This calls for spreading a budget, even a materials budget, over more categories, pointing to more resource dollars needed as well as more library space.

Here is a quick video and features two librarians speaking about the changed mission in a nutshell.

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