PLA: … Who Uses the Public Library?

Speakers: Susan Kent, Consultant, Los Angeles, and two “replacements” for absent speakers, Christopher Brown-Syed from the University of New York, Buffalo and Don King from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The two professors reported on statistical results from two studies and then Ms. Kent responded from the public library perspective.

In broad strokes, it appears that “those who like the library, like it alot” based on a comparison study of two surveys (over 2500 people each), one in 2000 and one in 2005 of users. There appears to be an increase in use of the public library websites while a small decrease in “in-person” visits. Those who have continued to use the library during that time period, use it more frequently.

On the other hand, Dr. King reported on a study from the “library side” and the data was a little different showing that visits were up per capita (between 1992 and 2005) slighlty as well as website visits being up. He believes the remote visits compliment the in-person visits. In general, most people who come to the library website remotely are coming to use the catalog. (This is supported by HCPL’s current survey results as well.)

Ms. Kent simply highlighted the key findings and supported them with anecdotal data. Hand-outs on the PLA website were not yet available as of today.

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