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The Information Needs of Citizens: Where Libraries Fit In

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Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center, discussed the Center’s latest research at the Public Library Association’s 2018 meeting. He noted that libraries are trusted and expected to help people get the information and services they want. He also argued there are new hopes (and demands) for libraries to help people navigate an information environment filled with “fake news” and “weaponized narratives.” He presented the Center’s latest findings about how librarians can distinguish between the “information engaged” and the “information wary” patrons.

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The Information Needs of Citizens: Where Libraries Fit In

  1. 1. The information needs of citizens Lee Rainie Director, Internet and Technology research March 23, 2018 Public Library Association @lrainie | @pewinternet | @pewresearch
  2. 2. ”[T]here has been a 60 percent decrease in the number of people in this country who believe they are the Lord incarnate,” said Pew senior research statistician Marianne Tomac, adding that the largest contributor to the drop was the dwindling number of parents who raise their children in households in which they are taught they are the Supreme Being.”
  3. 3. Facts are the atomic unit of truth Facts drive outcomes for individuals and societies Facts underlie justice Facts are democratic Facts are tied to trust Trust is what binds people together to: overcome uncertainty overcome vulnerability cement interdependence achieve collective action
  4. 4. What people say they want/need Smart allies (diversity really helps) Improved curators Proof of authenticity Transparency More confidence they can learn and grow Just-in-time help in decision making More training on tech use and information literacy Organizations that will help and protect them
  5. 5. April 9, 2018 5www.pewresearch.org The next library will be built around 5 new insights
  6. 6. 1. People seek personal enrichment and entertainment in new ways 2. People seek knowledge and reference expertise in new ways 3. Some groups especially need and want access to technology through trusted institutions 4. Learning is a social process
  7. 7. 5: Where they fit on these continuums ALA’s “Confronting the Future” Totally physical (facilities and media) Individual focus Collection library (physical and virtual) Archive Everything for everyone Totally virtual (facilities and media) Community focus Creation library (social, maker space) Portal Specialized niche
  8. 8. People: Serve and Model Pathfinders for trusted information Curators and arbiters of trusted information Tech AND data experts Master teachers in age of lifelong learning Visionaries for the knowledge economy and the jobs it produces
  9. 9. Place: Reconfigure and repurpose Embrace the Internet of Things Become the “first place” to meet Fill in “market holes” or niches (ESL, pre-school learning, small biz space, veterans programs) Innovation test beds
  10. 10. Platform: Community Resource 2.0 Trusted, top-of-mind institution for learning Advocates for free and open Advocates for closing digital divides Privacy and algorithms watchdog
  11. 11. What we’ve learned as we did our research http://www.pewinternet.org/topics/libraries/
  12. 12. • People think libraries are important, especially for communities • People like and trust librarians • People think libraries level of the playing field for those without vast resources • People believe libraries have rebranded themselves as tech hubs • People still read books
  13. 13. Latest book reading stats 79% 74 76 72 73 74 71% 65 69 63 65 67 17% 23 28 27 28 26 11% 13 14 12 14 18 Read a print book Read a book in any format Listened to an audiobook Read an e-book 2011 2012 2014 2015 2016 2018
  14. 14. 39% 7% 29% 24% Read both print and digital books Non-book reader Read print books only Read digital books only The typical (median) American adult read 4 books in the past 12 months --- The average (mean) read 12 books Still is an interesting, counterintuitive Millennials story Still is a socio-economic story
  15. 15. Library usage
  16. 16. Went to library / bookmobile in past 12 months % of those ages 16+ 53 48 44 48 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 2012 2012 2013 2015 2016 Heavier users include parents of minors, women, those under 60, those with college degrees +
  17. 17. Library activities
  18. 18. Assessments of libraries
  19. 19. People’s trust in various sources of information 3 14 17 18 18 24 39 40 31 54 48 54 43 58 44 38 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Info on social media Info from financial institutions Info from national news organizations Info from local news organizations Info from government sources Info from family and friends Info from health care providers Information from local public library a lot some
  20. 20. Do you think the library helps you 78 76 65 56 21 23 34 43 0 20 40 60 80 100 Find info that is trustworthy Learn new things Grow as a person Get info that helps you with decisions Yes No
  21. 21. Do you think your local public library provides you with the resources you need, or not? 77 11 12 0 20 40 60 80 100 Yes No Don’t know Especially true for those under age 50 and doubly true for Millennials
  22. 22. If your local public library CLOSED, would that have a MAJOR impact, MINOR impact or NO IMPACT on … 33 66 33 25 33 6 0 20 40 60 80 100 Me / my family My community Major Impact Minor impact No impact
  23. 23. Information engagement/disengagement typology
  24. 24. • Gauge interest in topics like business, government, health, science, sports, local community, foreign affairs • Explore “growth mindset” vs. “fixed mindset” (Carol Dweck) • Explore their strategies as they make major decisions • Measure their technology inventory • Explore their library use • How much they think it would help them if they: got Poll and focus groups
  25. 25. Eager and willing = 22% of population This group has highest levels of interest in news and information and high degree of trust in info sources. More than any other group, they trust their family and friends, plus libraries and librarians, as info sources.
  26. 26. Eager and willing – 22% of population (2) They do not have particular abundance in digital information access tools and, perhaps for that reason, more than half report at least occasional difficulty finding information online. This group also expresses a high degree of interest in training on digital skills and on how to better understand the trustworthiness of information. They also wish that a public library were closer to home and had expanded
  27. 27. Eager and willing – 22% of population Demographics Female dominated Minority majority (31% Hispanic; 21% black) Relatively young Least well educated
  28. 28. Information confident – 16% of population This group reports the highest levels of trust in information sources, with particularly high levels of trust in national news organizations, government sources, and health care providers. This translates into above-average interest in news, with particular emphasis on government and politics and foreign affairs.
  29. 29. Information confident – 16% of population (2) They have an abundance of tech access tools, and they do not feel they need additional training in digital skills or how to determine the veracity of information for making decisions.
  30. 30. Information confident – 16% of population Demographics Evenly split by gender Tilts white Tilts young Tilts better educated
  31. 31. Cautious and curious – 13% of population This group has interest in information, but not a lot of time or attention to pursue it. Its members also have below- average levels of trust in information, but a high level of interest in acquiring digital skills and skills to better trust information.
  32. 32. Cautious and curious – 13% of population This group could become more interested in pursuing information. Clearing trust hurdles is part of it. They also need more time and attention to do this.
  33. 33. Cautious and curious – 13% of population Demographics Looks like the general population
  34. 34. The Doubtful – 24% of population This group has fairly typical levels of interest in information (just below average) and visit the library on par with others. Yet they have low levels of trust in info sources (especially national / local news organizations).
  35. 35. The Doubtful – 24% of population (2) They are also much more likely than average to say they are often trying to do two or more things at once and less likely than others to say it is easy for them to relax. Have little interest in improving their information literacy.
  36. 36. The Doubtful – 24% of population Demographics Tilts male Tilts to better-off households Tilts suburban
  37. 37. Information wary – 25% of population People with relatively low levels of interest in information. Very low levels of trust in information sources. They do not exhibit much interest in acquiring digital skills or the wherewithal to determine what information is trustworthy.
  38. 38. Information wary – 25% of population Demographics Male dominated Tilts older Non-parents of minors
  39. 39. People think education matters more and they want to be more attuned to learning
  40. 40. Learning as identity (% of those ages 18+) 57 61 73 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 I often find myself looking for new opportunities to grow as a person I like to gather as much information as I can when I come across something that I am not familiar… I think of myself as a lifelong learner Describes me very well
  41. 41. The motives of personal learners % of those ages 18+ 33 36 60 64 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Learn something to help with my children's or other kids school work Wanted to turn a hobby into extra income Extra time on my hands Learn something that would allow me to help others Learn something make my life more interesting
  42. 42. How are libraries performing in this new environment?
  43. 43. How well, if at all, do your local public libraries serve the learning and educational needs of your local community – not just children at schools, but all those of any age who want to learn? % of those ages 18+ 37 39 6 4 12 0 20 40 60 80 100 Very well Pretty well Not too well Not well at all Don't know
  44. 44. How well, if at all, do your local public libraries serve the learning and educational needs of you and your family? (% of those ages 18+) 34 36 9 12 8 0 20 40 60 80 100 Very well Pretty well Not too well Not well at all Don't know
  45. 45. Fear not

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