Pew Research Center Report on E-readers

Yesterday I was looking over a study from the Pew Research Center on e-readers in libraries. When I worked as a Young Adult Librarian, I didn’t get a lot of e-reader questions. Occasionally I would have someone call me asking for help accessing our Young Adult titles through Overdrive or a parent asking about Tumblebooks, but for the most part the questions were confined to the adult desk. Now that I am working in adult services, however, I have noticed quite a few people are asking about e-readers and are interested in borrowing them from the library. Not surprisingly the study found that social media use is on the rise, with 92% of users 18-29 using social networking sites, 73% of people 30-49, 57% of those 50-64 and 38% of those 65 and older. One-third of adults surveyed own an e-reader or tablet, and this number is likely to rise this holiday season with the launch of the iPad Mini, iPad 4, and Microsoft Surface, among other devices. In terms of borrowing e-books from the library, 62% of survey participants who do not borrow from the library didn’t even know they could! Additionally, 58% of all library card holders didn’t know they could borrow e-books. Clearly libraries must do more to promote their online resources. Many libraries are beginning to offer “Book a Librarian” programs to allow people to bring in their mobile devices and get assistance with downloading audiobooks and e-books. Additionally, some public libraries are hiring “tech coaches” on a paid or volunteer basis to teach people the ins and outs of e-readers and social media technology. I believe these types of services will continue to be popular in the coming years. Interestingly, the study also found that 40% of users age 16-29 are reading more as a result of digital content and 83% has visited a library in the past year. This is encouraging news given how much worry there seems to be in the media about young people and reading.

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