The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project (Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) conducted a survey to find out what the average American thinks about public libraries. You can see the article, Library Services in the Digital Age, describing the survey results here. The findings are very encouraging, and in those cities where councils are making a mad dash to slash budgets on the backs of library funding, please note:
"Fully 91% of Americans ages 16 and older say public libraries are important to their communities; and 76% say libraries are important to them and their families." Now THAT is a mandate.
Respondents cited borrowing books and free access to computers and the Internet as "very important" in almost equal amounts. Librarians too are considered a valuable library asset.
But "just 22% say that they know all or most of the services their libraries offer now." This looks like a good place for some creative marketing ideas.
This is a valuable piece of research and a useful tool for libraries and librarians, to see where we are doing well, where we are falling short, and where we should be headed for the future.