A new study shows that the majority of parents highly value one resource for their children: libraries. Ninety-four percent say libraries are important for their children, according to new report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The study, “Parents’ and Children’s Special Relationship with Reading and Libraries,” reveals the strong connections parents have with public libraries.
One thing that nearly all parents agree about is the importance of libraries! This study echoes what librarians have heard from parents for years: libraries encourage and build a love of reading and books. Librarians provide more information and resources than any family can afford to have at home. Libraries provide a safe and welcoming space for reading and learning.
Libraries continue to link people with the information and the critical resources they need to educate themselves and to connect with their communities. Eighty-seven percent of children who visited the library do so to borrow books. Fifty-five percent went to do school work. A whopping 77 percent of teenagers come to us to support their out-of-school learning!
An important way in which libraries support lifelong learning is by offering public programs that range from storytime for preschoolers to homework programs for teens. A recent report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services finds that libraries offered 2.3 million programs for children. Attendance at these children’s programs exceeded 60.5 million.
Parents with school-age children also are more likely to be active library users themselves and to be interested in expanded library services than those without school-age children at home. Sixty-two percent of parents think libraries should offer a broader selection of e-books. Seventy eight percent of parents would like to participate in programs that allow patrons to test new technology devices and apps. Digital media labs and mobile services also are of interest to seven out of ten parents.
I am pleased and proud that our nation’s libraries have inspired this level of confidence and trust. We thank the Pew Internet Project and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their research and continued exploration of the role and contribution of our public libraries in the digital age.
Maureen Sullivan is the president of the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with 58,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.