Today Pew Research Center released a study on Library Services in the Digital Age. The information is detailed, interesting, and up-to-date.
Recently, my own library system is talking about no longer requiring librarians or managers to have a Master of Library Science. They seem to think patrons will be asking less and less questions. That certainly doesn’t match my experience, but it meant I found this part of the report particularly gratifying:
Librarians to help people find information they need
Overall, 80% of Americans say that it is “very important” to the community for libraries to have librarians available to help people find information they need. Some 16% consider having librarians at libraries “somewhat important,” while 2% say this is “not too important” and 1% say it is “not at all important.”
Blacks (89%) are significantly more likely than whites (78%) to consider librarians “very important,” and women (84%) are more likely to say this than men (77%). Those living in households making less than $30,000 per year are also more likely to consider librarians very important compared to those living in households earning more than $75,000. Looking at responses based on device ownership, we find that those who own technological devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones are just as likely as non-users to consider librarians “very important” to the community.
Our focus groups considered librarians to be very important to libraries in general, and many had very positive memories of interactions with librarians from their childhoods. Even when they suggested automating certain services for the sake of convenience, our focus groups overwhelmingly saw a future with librarians as an integral part of libraries.
This was from Part 4, “What people want from their libraries.”
I recently began reading a book, which shall remain nameless, about mobile technology, that went on and on about how libraries are dying a slow death. This research does not support that theory.
The fact is, our library system cut hours in 2010 due to budget cuts, but recently brought many of those hours back because of popular demand. People do like having a knowledgeable person available to help them.
It’s nice seeing someone doing legitimate detailed research on Libraries in the Digital Age. If more authors and speakers would consult the research, perhaps they wouldn’t make such foolish prophecies. Libraries aren’t dying any time soon, and it’s nice to have confirmed that people value Librarians’ Help.