The public library: Historic artifact or adaptive success?

public libraryThe public library question is one we ask ourselves frequently here at TeleRead: In general, how well—or how poorly—are libraries adapting to the Internet age? And how, exactly, are library patrons using their local branches? (As low-cost coffee shops or free Internet cafes, perhaps?) And for that matter, do most patrons consider their local library’s print book collection to be just as crucial as it ever was?

Tough questions, all of them. If you spend a moment studying the infographic below, which was sent to us today from the website, you’ll likely come to the same conclusion we’ve come to probably dozens of times ourselves: Americans still love their libraries and still consider them to be a crucial aspect of any vital community, and yet … budget cuts. They don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

At any rate, take a look yourself, and if you have a spare moment, let us know if—and how—any of these stats resonate with you, or with the public library situation in your own part of the world.

* * *

public library
Courtesy of:

6 Comments on The public library: Historic artifact or adaptive success?

  1. I’ve used libraries since I was a child (40-50 years ago) as a place to get books to read and do research.

    I think a library can be a resource for free internet and computer use, but, in Seattle the computers and internet is in the midst of what a library is actually there for – books and research. I would think that if libaries put all the computers with internet connections and the free wifi should be contained in one area away from the actual library.

    I do enjoy having access to many research databases online via my library number, which I do from home, but I am not interested in wasting libraries limited budgets on child care, free wifi and computers. Let the corporations fund that stuff and keep it segregated from the library.

  2. Hi, Deran. A few of my own thoughts on this issue…

    Millions of Americans depend on public library computers and WiFI. This is a great value for the taxpayers. No few of those patrons using the computers are looking for jobs or seeking to upgrade their skills; consider the stats. And as for e-books–well, libraries are a great popularizer of the technology. So how about childcare, official or unofficial? Better for children to be in a place where they’ll be encouraged to read and learn.

    Meanwhile I’m delighted that under Dan Eldridge, TeleRead’s interest in libraries continues.


    David Rothman

  3. Susan Lulgjuraj // April 30, 2013 at 4:19 pm //

    As a kid, I used the library for countless hours of research. As a college student, I used it as an excuse when I needed to go out (but that’s another story).

    I still go to the library. I was there last week and there were people in there from school-age children to senior citizens. Some using computers, others using gaming systems, while other were just reading books.

    I went there to get away and use their Internet on my laptop just to enjoy some peace and quiet.

  4. Susan mentioned gaming system.

    One of the bigger trends (more than eBooks for us) is checking out Video Games. We do not check out the consoles but we do circulate the discs.

    In just over a year it has become over 6% of the TOTAL Circ of our building. Considering all of Non-fiction dead tree books make up 10% of what we circulate it is a huge growing chunk.


  5. If only 31% of Americans are aware that e-books are offered as a service, how is it that 53% believe a broader selection of e-books should be offered?

  6. MP

    53% feel that there should be a wider availability of eBooks.

    That means that 22% of them are not aware that there are already some available.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail

wordpress analytics