Stop everything you are doing and read this report: Library Services in the Digital Age

This morning Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new report Library Services in the Digital Age. If you work in libraries this is a must read. Why? Funding for libraries is critical, and one of the keys to funding is community support. To gather community support, you need to know your community.

This report gives insight into what the American public as well as library staff have to say about libraries–what’s important, what’s not important, what needs to change, what can be improved. Filled with statistics as well as quotes from focus groups,it’s going to take me a while to read and process the 80 page report. From scanning the report though a couple of things already jumped out at me.

Libraries matter!

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.

Libraries need to do a better job communicating their products and services to the community.

  • 22% know all or most of the services their libraries offer now
  • 46% know some of what their libraries offer
  • 31% know not much or nothing at all of what their libraries offer

I found it especially interesting to read what the public sees as a priority for libraries compared to what librarians see as a priority. The big question that remains is do those priorities align? More importantly, do the priorities of your library match the priorities of your community?