How much do Americans love libraries? So much that even people who don’t use them say they cherish them. That’s one of several surprising findings in a new Pew Research Center report. Most intriguing: people who identify themselves as techies and people with high incomes are often among the biggest users and fans of public libraries. Another counter-intuitive finding: the people who said they feel overwhelmed by “information overload” were often those who rarely visited a library and engaged the least with new technology.
According to the report, 30 percent of Americans are “highly engaged” with their local libraries, but most people’s use of libraries depends on what’s going on in their lives: students, job seekers, and new parents patronize libraries because their lives are changing and they need information. People who engage the least with their libraries, according to the study, tend to have “lower levels of technology use, fewer ties to their neighbors, lower feelings of personal efficacy, and less engagement with other cultural activities.”