I finished reading the Pew Report Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits some time ago. I posted a few thoughts on the report several months ago (here and here), but I never got around to posting my final thoughts.
In addition to looking at the reading habit of Americans, the Pew report also examined how Americans use libraries. Ordinarily, this isn’t a topic that would interest me much, but the Pew report contained some interesting tidbits of information. Personally I’m a sporadic library user for my reading needs, but my family uses the library a lot, especially my daughter. This is consistent with the demographic findings in the Pew report.
What surprised, however, me was how e-books are changing the way people use the library. While this finding makes sense, I hadn’t realized the degree to which this was occurring. I didn’t know you could even check out e-books from the library. Did you? If not, you’re in the majority, as only 2% of library users checked out an ebook in 2011 (I suspect that number went up in 2012, considering the rise of ebooks last year).
The availability of ebooks has increased the importance of library websites, and librarians noted that technology use and support have become major aspects of their work with patrons—many people contacting librarians are looking for help navigating the library’s website and downloading e-books. It’s highly likely that ebooks will shape the future of the library system, although it’s not clear yet exactly what that will mean.
I went online to see if my local library carries ebooks, and they do. I also looked at several other library systems around the U.S., and found they also carried them. If you’re curious about your local library, there’s an entire wiki page devoted to listing libraries that loan ebooks, and not just in the U.S.. So if you own an ebook reader and can’t afford to buy all the books you want for it, check out your public library. It may be a great source of electronic reading material.