This morning at 12:01 am Pew released their new report on the role of libraries in the digital age – title Libraries, patrons and ebooks. You can read the full report here and I encourage you to do so, there is a great deal of good data there. I’ve pulled out some data that I think falls under the good, the bad, the ugly and the just plain interesting sections.
Almost 70% of people believe that their local library is important to them
- 58% of adults are library card holders.
- 12% of Americans ages 16 and older who read e-books say they have borrowed an e-book from a library in the past year.
- 46% of those who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow an e-reading device that came loaded with a book they wanted to read.
- 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a library class on how to download e-books onto handheld devices.
- 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a course at a library in how to use an e-reader or tablet computer.
- 62% said they did not know if their library offered that service
- 58% of all library card holders say they do not know if their library provides e-book lending services.
- 55% of all those who say the library is “very important” to them say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 53% of all tablet computer owners say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 48% of all owners of e-book reading devices such as original Kindles and NOOKs say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 47% of all those who read an e-book in the past year say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 56% of e-book borrowers from libraries say that at one point or another they had tried to borrow a particular book and found that the library did not carry it.
- 52% of e-book borrowers say that at one point or another they discovered there was a waiting list to borrow the book.
- 18% of e-book borrowers say that at one point or another they found that an e-book they were interested in was not compatible with the e-reading device they were using.
- Library card holders are more than twice as likely to have bought their most recent book than to have borrowed it from a library. Many e-book borrowers purchase e-books, too.
- Among those who read e-books, 41% of those who borrow e-books from libraries purchased their most recent e-book.
- 55% of the e-book readers who also had library cards said they preferred to buy their e-books
- 46% of library card holders said they prefer to purchase print books they want to read
- Mobile device use increased to 22% of all checkouts
- the OverDrive Media Console (a free e-book and audiobook app) was installed on 5 million devices, up 84% from the previous year and making the total install base 11 million users.
- 35 million digital titles were checked out of libraries in 2011, with 17 million holds on e-books
For those of us who have been embroiled in ebooks for what seems like ages, it is important to note that ebooks are still in the early stages of development and growth.
There is a LOT to think about think about in this report and as you know I’m in Anaheim for ALA right now so I’ll just leave you with this for now.
Although the number of public libraries offering ebooks has doubled in the past 5 years only about 40% of people surveyed were aware that their library offered ebooks. This number is alarming to me for two reasons – first I am surprised that it is so low, those serving on the frontlines of libraries will tell you that they are often overwhelmed with issues related to ebooks. Second if we are swamped by ebook issues now imagined if that number increase only by half and you were 50 percent busier with ebook issues that will still only be 60% of the population. And the truth is that we probably don’t want those people showing up at the library looking for ebooks right now anyway when pickings are so slim.
I know some people are going to look at this report and announce that libraries need to market “more better” but I’m going to disagree with this one. Market what? A poor selection? A cumbersome interface with needless friction. Let’s spend our energy getting a service we’re not ashamed of before we spend our energy marketing to patrons.
Libraries are still prevented by publishers from lending the majority of ebooks to the public. Libraries are still forced to used an unnecessarily complicated system to loan ebooks in the name of “friction”