Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association (ALA) released the following statement regarding the release of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the University of Illinois’ "Information Searches That Solve Problems: How People Use the Internet, Government Agencies, and Libraries When They Need Help" survey. The survey was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal funding for U.S. museums and libraries.
"The Pew survey supports our assertion that libraries are flourishing in the age of the Internet. According to the ALA’s 2007 State of America’s Libraries, library use is up nationwide among all types of library users, continuing a decade-long trend. Almost 1.8 billion visitors checked out more than 2 billion items last year.
"Libraries continue to bring in new technologies to serve their users-including wireless Internet access, laptops for in-library use, 24/7 online reference help, e-books, blogs, and MP3s. And libraries don’t just offer the hardware. They also offer the expertise of librarians, who teach people how to use the Internet and find the information they need quickly. More than three-fourths of U.S. public libraries offer information technology training for patrons.
"The study states seven in 10 library visitors received assistance from library staff, and 88% say they found a lot or some of what they were seeking. Library professionals play a critical role in helping find the information library users seek.
"The 2006-07 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study found that 78.5 percent of library staff provide as-needed assistance to patrons for understanding how to access and use government Web sites, programs and services. Fifty-five percent of library staff provide assistance to patrons applying for or accessing e-government services, and almost 13 percent of libraries are partnering with government agencies, non-profits and others to provide e-government services. We only see this role growing.
"Libraries continue to play a critical role in providing Internet access to those that can’t afford services. Seventy-three percent of U.S. public libraries report that they are the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities.
"The most recent ALA data shows that job-seeking and education are the two main uses of technology in libraries. In fact, those with lower levels of education (high school graduates) were the most likely to conduct a job search, write a resume or learn new work skills at the library. High school graduates also were the most likely to use library computers compared with those of other education levels.
"The Pew study also found that among age groups surveyed Generation Y (18-30), most frequently visited the library with more than 62% visiting the library in the past year. We've maintained for many years that it's important to reach out to teen library users as they're the decision makers of the future, and this study is further confirmation that teens are becoming avid library users.
"The Pew study demonstrates libraries continue to play a key role in communities throughout America - providing citizens with information and resources that can help them achieve their goals in life and contribute to society."