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Who Uses Libraries

PI-library-typology-03-13-2014-00-01Our friends at the Pew Research Internet Life Project, in their ongoing attempt to create a mosaic of what the Internet is and who specifically is Internet-borne, have released a new study on who is using libraries in the United States, From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and Beyond. The study identifies and connects the who and why of people who frequent libraries–and comes up with some quite amusing categories for those who do (and do not) come through the front door. Foremost amongst library users:

Information Omnivores are more likely to seek and use information than other groups, are more likely to have and use technology; at the same time, they are strong users of public libraries, and think libraries have a vital role in their communities. However, they are not quite as active in their library use as Library Lovers, or nearly as likely to say the loss of the local library would have a major impact on them and their family.

One of the “surprise findings” of the study is that only a small portion of library users report suffering from “information overload,” and that many folks (such as the information omnivores) move back and forth between digital and print information sources “seamlessly” (to invoke that ugly word). Print and digital sources do not seem to preclude one another–this a point made by JCR Licklider back in the 1960’s when he was thinking about something that works very much like the Internet now (see “Man-Computer Symbiosis“), and is beautifully explicated by Eric Ormsby in his essay “The Battle of the Book” which was published in New Criterion back in 2001 (and, for members of the SLU Community, easily accessible through a quick search in Academic Search Complete). Ormbsy’s essay is a marvelous contemplation of readers and libraries, and as I mentioned the way in which the print and digital happily coexist, facilitate different work. Facilitate the work of poems, and with National Poetry Month at hand, work that needs to be done…

~ by pdoty on March 14, 2014.

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