Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Younger Americans and Public Libraries

How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries’ role in their lives and communities
by: Kathryn Zickhur and Lee Rainie

Summary of Findings

This report pulls together several years of research into the role of libraries in the lives of Americans and their communities with a special focus on Millennials, a key stakeholder group affecting the future of communities, libraries, book publishers and media makers of all kinds, as well as the tone of the broader culture.
Following are some of the noteworthy insights from this research.
There are actually three different “generations” of younger Americans with distinct book reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries. One “generation” is comprised of high schoolers (ages 16-17); another is college-aged (18-24), though many do not attend college; and a third generation is 25-29.
Millennials’ lives are full of technology, but they are more likely than their elders to say that important information is not available on the internet. Some 98% of those under 30 use the internet, and 90% of those internet users say they using social networking sites. Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%). Despite their embrace of technology, 62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that. At the same time, 79% of Millennials believe that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage.
Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Some 43% report reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older. Young adults have caught up to those in their thirties and forties in e-reading, with 37% of adults ages 18-29 reporting that they have read an e-book in the past year.
The community and general media-use activities of younger adults are different from older adults. Those under age 30 are more likely to attend sporting events or concerts than older adults. They are also more likely to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast in some format on a daily or near-daily basis, and socialize with friends or family daily. Older adults, in turn, are more likely to visit museums or galleries, watch television or movies, or read the news on a daily basis.
As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a library website. Among those ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year in a September 2013 survey. Some 47% of those 30 and older had done so. Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older. Despite their relatively high use of libraries, younger Americans are among the least likely to say that libraries are important. Some 19% of those under 30 say their library’s closing would have a major impact on them and their family, compared with 32% of older adults, and 51% of younger Americans say it would have a major impact on their community, compared with 67% of those 30 and older.
As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many say they are unfamiliar with all the services it may offer: 36% of Millennials say they know little or nothing about the local library’s services, compared with 29% of those 30 and older. At the same time, most younger Americans feel they can easily navigate their local library, and the vast majority would describe libraries as warm, welcoming places, though younger patrons are less likely to rate libraries’ physical conditions highly.
While previous reports from Pew Research have focused on younger Americans’ e-reading habits and library usage, this report will explore in their attitudes towards public libraries in greater detail, as well as the extent to which they value libraries’ roles in their communities. To better understand the context of younger Americans’ engagement with libraries, this report will also explore their broader attitudes about technology and the role of libraries in the digital age.
It is important to note that age is not the only factor in Americans’ engagement with public libraries, nor the most important. Our library engagement typology found that Americans’ relationships with public libraries are part of their broader information and social landscapes, as people who have extensive economic, social, technological, and cultural resources are also more likely to use and value libraries as part of those networks. Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision. As a result, the picture of younger Americans’ engagement with public libraries is complex and sometimes contradictory, as we examine their habits and attitudes at different life stages.

Even among those under 30, age groups differ in habits and attitudes

Though there are often many differences between Americans under 30 and older adults, younger age groups often have many differences that tie to their age and stage of adulthood.
Our surveys have found that older teens (ages 16-17) are more likely to read (particularly print books), more likely to read for work or school, and more likely to use the library for books and research than older age groups. They are the only age group more likely to borrow most of the books they read instead of purchasing them, and are also more likely to get reading recommendations at the library. Yet despite their closer relationship with public libraries, 16-17 year-olds are less likely to say they highly value public libraries, both as a personal and community resource. Older adults, by contrast, are more likely to place a high level of importance on libraries’ roles in their communities—even age groups that are less likely to use libraries overall, such as those ages 65 and older.
The members of the next oldest age group, college-aged adults (ages 18-24), are less likely to use public libraries than many other age groups, and are significantly less likely to have visited a library recently than in our previous survey: Some 56% of 18-24 year-olds said they had visited a library in the past year in November 2012, while just 46% said this in September 2013. They are more likely to purchase most of the books they read than borrow them, and are more likely to read the news regularly than 16-17 year-olds. In addition, like the next oldest age group, 25-29 year-olds, most of those in the college-aged cohort have lived in their current neighborhood five years or less.
Finally, many of the library habits and views of adults in their late twenties (ages 25-29) are often more similar to members of older age groups than their younger counterparts. They are less likely than college-aged adults to have read a book in the past year, but are more likely to keep up with the news. In addition, a large proportion (42%) are parents, a group with particularly high rates of library usage. Additionally, library users in this group are less likely than younger patrons to say their library use has decreased, and they are much more likely to say that various library services are very important to them and their family.

Younger Americans’ community activities, and media and technology landscapes

As a group, the library usage of younger Americans ages 16-29 fits into the larger context of their social activities and community engagement, as well as their broader media and technological environment. Those under age 30 are more likely to attend sporting events or concerts than older adults. They are also more likely to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast in some format on a daily or near-daily basis, and socialize with friends or family daily. Older adults, in turn, are more likely to visit museums or galleries, watch television or movies, or read the news on a daily basis.
About four in ten younger Americans (43%) reported reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, making them more likely to do so than older adults. Among younger Americans who did read at least one book, the median or typical number read in the past year was 10.
Younger Americans typically have higher rates of technology adoption than older adults, with 98% of those under 30 using the internet, and 90% of those internet users saying they using social networking sites. Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%).
Respondents of all age groups generally agree that the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past, and most Americans feel that it’s easy to separate the good information from bad online. However, Americans under age 30 are actually a little more likely than older adults to say that there is a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet. They are also somewhat more likely to agree that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing.

Relationships with public libraries

Younger Americans are significantly more likely than older adults to have used a library in the past year, including using a library website. Overall, the percentage of all Americans who visited a library in person in the previous year fell from our 2012 to 2013 surveys, but the percentage who used a library website increased; the same is true for younger Americans. Few library users made use of a library website without also visiting a library in person in that time, however, so overall library usage rates did not increase:
  • Among those ages 16-29, the percentage who visited a public library in person in the previous year dropped from 58% in November 2012 to 50% in September 2013, with the largest drop occurring among 18-24 year-olds.
  • 36% of younger Americans used a library website in the previous year, up from 28% in 2012, with the largest growth occurring among 16-17 year-olds (from 23% to 35%).
Despite their higher rates of library usage overall, younger Americans—particularly those under age 25—continue to be less likely than older adults to say that if their local public library closed it would have a major impact on either them and their family or on their community. Patrons ages 16-29 are also less likely than those ages 30 and older to say that several services are “very important” to them and their family, though those in their late twenties are more likely than younger age groups to strongly value most services.
As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many are unfamiliar with all the services they offer. However, most younger Americans feel they can easily navigate their local library, and the vast majority would describe libraries as warm, welcoming places, though younger patrons are less likely to rate libraries’ physical conditions highly.

Views about technology in libraries

Looking specifically at technology use at libraries, we found that as a group, patrons under age 30 are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computers and internet connections, but less likely to say these resources are very important to them and their families—particularly the youngest patrons, ages 16-17. Even though they are not as likely to say libraries are important, young adults do give libraries credit for embracing technology. Yet while younger age groups are often more ambivalent about the role an importance of libraries today than older adults, they do not necessarily believe that libraries have fallen behind in the technological sphere. Though respondents ages 16-29 were more likely than those ages 30 and older to agree that “public libraries have not done a good job keeping up with newer technologies” (43% vs. 31%), a majority of younger Americans (52%) disagreed with that statement overall.

About these surveys

This report covers the core findings from three major national surveys of Americans ages 16 and older. Many of the findings come from a survey of 6,224 Americans ages 16+ conducted in the fall of 2013. A full statement of the survey method and details can be found here:
The details and methods of the two other surveys can be found at:

Disclaimer from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This report is based on research funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

from: Pew Internet

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Delaware is first US state to introduce digital inheritance

by: Colm Gorey

The small east coast state of Delaware in the US has made history by being the first state to pass a law which will protect the right of family members to access the digital life of a deceased family member.
Known as the ‘Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act’, the piece of legislation will give a person’s heir the right to access and gain legal control of all of the deceased’s devices and digital accounts, much like any existing property that is usually transferred to someone following a loved one’s death, according to Ars Technica.
The bill makes Delaware the first state in the US, and potentially the world, to accept the right of inheritance in digital terms when previously there has been much trouble created by family members who have requested from tech companies and social networks access to accounts that have been lost because the deceased never gave them their passwords.
The bill was previously lobbied by an organisation called the Uniform Law Commission, which wanted to address shortcomings within the law that weren’t up to date with the fast pace of technology and privacy issues.
The terms of service of most websites are rather clear about the sharing passwords in that under no circumstances is anyone legally allowed to give their password to someone else to use their login, despite it being commonplace in some capacity by many.
While social media sites have not directly commented on the ruling, an attorney representing companies including Google, Yahoo! and Facebook has criticised the decision of Delaware’s lawmakers. Speaking to Ars Technica, director of the State Privacy and Security Coalition, Jim Halpert said, “This law takes no account of minimising intrusions into the privacy of third parties who communicated with the deceased.
“This would include highly confidential communications to decedents from third parties who are still alive - patients of deceased doctors, psychiatrists, and clergy, for example - who would be very surprised that an executor is reviewing the communications.”
from: Silicon Republic

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Your Library May Soon Have Laser Cutters and 3-D Printers

by: Clive Thompson

Visit the downtown branch of the Chattanooga Public Library and you'll find the usual stuff: rows of books, magazines, and computers. But walk up to the fourth floor and there's something unexpected. It's a “makerspace”—complete with a laser cutter, a zine lab for making paper publications, and a 3-D printer. There's even a loom.
When it opened in spring 2013, the maker floor—formerly unused and filled with decrepit equipment—became a massive hit, and up to 1,200 patrons attended events there. “Normally you hold a library event and you get six people,” says Meg Backus, the systems administrator and chief maker for Chattanooga. But this new floor gives patrons access to new forms of literacy, ones they hunger after: design, programming, video editing, book writing, and website building. Consider it a glimpse into the future of libraries. They're becoming places to not just imbibe knowledge but create it—physically. Many people don't have access to classic hacker spaces, are intimidated by them, or can't afford them. “But here all you need is a library card,” says CJ Lynce, who runs a similarly equipped space at the Cleveland Public Library.
Chattanooga and Cleveland aren't the only cities giving this new kind of library a try. A survey by John Burke at Miami University found that 109 libraries in the US had a makerspace or were close to opening one. Others are hosting events like Wikipedia edit-a-thons, where residents plumb the library's resources to create articles about local history. (One library even has its own farm.) This ferment is attracting patrons; a Pew Internet survey found that these new modes bring in folks who normally shun libraries, typically men and people with limited education.
Ezra Reynolds is an example. As a kid he visited Chattanooga's main branch regularly but eventually stopped. Today he works assisting people with physical disabilities, and a year ago he adopted a son (now 2) whose arms end below the elbow. When Reynolds heard about the 3-D printer, he made his son a bunch of customized prostheses, including utensil- and pencil-holders. “This is what got me back in the door to the library after probably a 15-year hiatus,” Reynolds says. When he visits the library now, he often shares his new skills. This is another part of the trend: spaces where people interact. Older folks teach sewing to the younger ones, who in turn teach them laser etching.
But what about books? Public Library Association research shows that people have checked out slightly fewer materials in recent years. And Pew found that about a third of patrons are opposed to makerspaces if they displace books. But while I'm just as sentimental about the primacy of hard copy, the librarians aren't. As they all tell me, their job is helping with access to knowledge—not all of which comes in codex form and much of which is deeply social. Libraries aren't just warehouses for documents; they're places to exchange information. “Getting people in a room, talking and teaching each other, is huge,” Backus says. Nor are the makerspaces necessarily expensive. The Chattanooga project cost only $25,000.
You have to give the librarians credit. Stereotype says they're fusty, but the reality is absolutely the opposite. Over and over they've adapted to new information tools, from microfiche to CD-ROMs to the Internet. Now this—possibly the best example I've seen of how a storied institution embraces change.

from: Wired

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book News: Floating Library To Open On New York's Hudson River

by: Annalisa Quinn

  • A floating pop-up library is opening on New York's Hudson River this fall. The creation of the artist Beatrice Glow, The Floating Library will appear "aboard the historic Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in New York City" from Sept. 6 to Oct. 3, according to the library's website. "The ship's main deck will be transformed into an outdoor reading lounge to offer library visitors a range of reading materials from underrepresented authors, artist books, poetry, manifestoes, as well as book collection, that, at the end of the lifecycle of the project, will be donated to local high school students with demonstrated need." This is not the first floating library — another, the brainchild of the artist Sarah Peters, appeared last year on Minneapolis' Cedar Lake.

from: NPR

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Librarians Are A Luxury Chicago Public Schools Can't Afford

by: Becky Vevea

Two years ago, the Chicago Public Schools budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year, the budget called for 313 librarians, and now that number is down to 254.

With educators facing tough financial choices, having a full-time librarian is becoming something of a luxury in Chicago's more than 600 public schools.

It's not that there's a shortage of librarians in Chicago, and it's not mass layoffs. The librarians are being reassigned.

"The people are there, they're just not staffing the library; they're staffing another classroom," says Megan Cusick, a librarian at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School. She says all across the district, certified librarians are being reassigned to English classrooms, world languages or to particular grade levels in elementary schools.

"We got down to the point of saying, well, we have a classroom and it doesn't have a teacher," says Scott Walter, a parent at Nettelhorst Elementary, a popular school in the upper-middle-class Lake View neighborhood on the city's North Side.

He says when the district stopped funding specific positions and let principals and school councils decide how to spend their money, the numbers weren't adding up.

"Here's the position and she can be in a library or we can have a teacher in front of 30 kids. And no matter how much you love libraries, and as much as I do, you can't have a classroom without a teacher in front of it," Walter says.

Ultimately, Nettelhorst had to move its librarian, who is also a certified teacher, into a fourth-grade classroom.

In Illinois, all librarians must also have teaching certifications, and most have endorsements to teach specific grades and subjects.

There's no required amount of minutes for library instruction in the state, so schools won't face any repercussions if they don't have a librarian or a school library.

Scott Walter says Nettelhorst students are still able to check out books, because the clerk and parent volunteers help staff the library. Still, he says, it's a lose-lose.

"It feels [like] CPS [Chicago Public Schools] has set us up into a situation where we have to decide which finger we don't want," he says.

School officials wouldn't go on tape for this story. In a fact sheet sent to WBEZ, they touted the district's expanded virtual libraries available to all students. A spokesperson wrote, "we will not be satisfied until we have central and/or classroom-based libraries in every school."

At a school board meeting this summer, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett addressed the issue and said the real problem is with hiring.

"It's not that we don't want to have librarians in libraries. Nobody can argue that point, but the pool is diminished," she says.

Cusick says if the hiring pool is empty, that's because so many librarians are being reassigned.

She says with so many librarians being transferred to the classroom something bigger is being lost. In the library, they teach kids how to do research, how to find and evaluate information, which she says is even more important in the digital age.

"Kids don't just know how to do that. It's not a skill that they develop just because they have an iPhone or because they have a computer at home, which many of our students don't have," she says.

Cusick and her colleagues don't want to see librarians added at the expense of other positions, like art teachers and physical education teachers. But they also don't want to see school libraries just become places where books are stored and meetings are held.

from: NPR

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons

by: Mark Jenkins

Among the many roles for which public libraries are appreciated, there’s one that can be problematic: de facto day shelter for homeless people. Downtown’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library attracts many such patrons, and Jean Badalamenti understands why.

“The city drops folks from three shelters off here every morning and picks them up in the evening. So they come here because of that,” said Badalamenti, a social worker who in May became the D.C. Public Library’s first health and human services coordinator.

“But they would come here anyway,” she continued. “The library’s a great place to spend the day for anybody. You get access to computers, you can look for jobs, you can connect with your family and friends on Facebook and e-mail, use [photo software] and do lots of creative things.”

Libraries in other cities have addressed homelessness in various ways. Philadelphia has a cafe and Seattle a coffee cart run by workers who were previously homeless; Dallas produces podcasts of interviews with its homeless regulars. But as far as Badalamenti knows, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to hire a library social worker, following San Francisco.

There, several people work directly with homeless patrons, something Badalamenti is occasionally asked to do. “Sometimes staff will call me, just because I’m here, and say, ‘Can you come down?’ And I’ll go down and try to talk to someone. I’m happy to do that. I enjoy that,” she said.

“But that’s not really my job. I’m sort of the bigger picture person.”

A former Ward 4 advisory neighborhood commissioner who has a master’s degree in social work from Howard University and 25 years of experience, Badalamenti works in the library’s programs and partnerships office.

“I really was brought on to figure out how the library can engage more disenfranchised populations in the city,” she said. “And make connections with other organizations to help provide programming.”

Badalamenti knows the situation at MLK best, because her office is there, but she noted that there are homeless “hot spots” throughout the system, as there are in most cities, and in many suburban library systems as well. One of her tasks is introducing the issue to the approximately 100 new staffers hired last year when the library system expanded its hours.

“Those people haven’t necessarily worked in an urban environment before,” she said. “And so [we are] helping them understand what it means to be homeless, what people experience when they’re homeless. Just a sort of sensitivity training, but hopefully we’ll be doing some other kinds of training, even around de-escalation. Identifying folks who might be in a crisis, so the library can respond and be helpful.

“De-escalation,” she explained, means restoring calm: “If someone’s getting angry and frustrated, how do you de-escalate a confrontational situation or an emotional situation?”

The library has just begun a staff survey about interaction with patrons who might be homeless, Badalamenti said. “How’s it impacting your day? What do you need from us? What do you need so that you can do your job and be helpful to these folks — and every single other customer that comes through the door?”

She also hopes the city’s libraries can serve as a point of “coordinated entry” for people in need of social services. “Because the libraries tend to be gathering places for people without homes, it’s important to be part of the citywide conversation about how we’re going to address homelessness, health services and moving people out of homelessness,” she said.

Badalamenti doesn’t want to stigmatize homeless people, or suggest that their presence in the library is inherently a burden. “Every person who comes in who is homeless is not creating a problematic situation,” she said. “All customers, with and without homes, create lots of interesting situations.”

Although homelessness may seem to be an intractable issue, Badalamenti is upbeat. “I think it’s pretty amazing that DCPL saw a need. Instead of turning away from the problem . . . let’s embrace everybody who’s here. And let’s figure out how we can serve them better.”

from: Washington Post

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Let’s Not Start Blaming Books for Dangerous Behaviors

by: Emily Temple

Recently, Salon reported on a study in the Journal of Women’s Healththat found young adult women (ages 18-24) who had read Fifty Shades of Grey to be “more likely than non-readers to exhibit signs of eating disorders and to have relationships with verbally abusive partners.” They are also “at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.” Multiple sex partners! Young adult women? Well, gee, I never!
According to the study:
Compared to participants who didn’t read the book, those who read the first “Fifty Shades” novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.
Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than nonreaders to binge drink — or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month — and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime.
Ignoring this weird sexism (when has having had five sex partners ever been held against 24-year-old men, I wonder) and the fact that using diet aids or fasting for more than 24 hours does not a eating disorder make, it’s important to point out that the study did nothing to discover whether these behaviors pre-existed the naughty reading habits or not. But apparently, it doesn’t matter. In a press release, lead researcher and Michigan State University Professor Amy Bonomi said, “If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma… Likewise, if they read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it’s possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors.”
Look, I’m no Fifty Shades of Grey apologist, but really? Setting aside the point that (from what I’ve heard) the abuse in the novels is consensual sex play, not actual abuse, this is just the old causation/correlation argument again. Does Fifty Shades of Grey make women engage in or accept abusive relationships? Does it make them binge drink? (Perhaps they need to binge drink because of how bad the book is.) Or perhaps it just turns out that sometimes, the kind of young woman who engages in these behaviors is also the kind of young woman who enjoys reading trashy, S&M-lite literature. Who knows?
Fortunately, novels have long been mostly exempt from the perennial argument that media can induce young people into dangerous behaviors. In fact, more often than not, you see books held up as a counter-example to those concerned about negative influences (mostly violence) in video games, movies or music. Last year, when Jim Carrey “distanced himself” from the violent Kick-Ass 2 in the wake of Sandy Hook, executive producer Mark Millar said he “never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more boy wizards in real life.” Shakespeare is another one that gets held up a lot — Shakespeare is violent! Is he causing school shootings? Well, of course not — in part because literature is less visceral in some ways than film and video games and even music, so the arguments tend to be less visceral too. Books sometimes get mentioned as part of the list of media that could be a “risk factor,” but have mostly been off the hook. And that’s a good thing. If we start banning books with violence and sex in them (er, again), we’ll lose more than if we ban violent video games. Not that we should ban either, mind you.
“We recognize that the depiction of violence against women in and of itself is not problematic, especially if the depiction attempts to shed serious light on the problem,” Bonomi also said. “The problem comes when the depiction reinforces the acceptance of the status quo, rather than challenging it.” Well that’s definitely true. But let’s not make these sweeping claims about women based on their reading habits — it doesn’t help matters.

from: Flavorwire