In 2008, OCLC released a report, "From Awareness to Funding," to explore the public's attitudes toward public libraries and what makes people vote in favor of increased funding for libraries. Ten years later, an updated report has come out and there are a few concerning changes for library organizations to consider.
You can find the full report here https://www.oclc.org/research/awareness-to-funding-2018.html .
A few excerpts:
How voters value libraries:
Analysis shows that 55% of voters view the public library as an essential local institution, and 53% as
a source of community pride. Fifty-eight percent (58%) feel that public libraries advance education,
and 51% believe libraries enhance the quality of life of any community.
Fewer voters are likely to see the library as a resource for children.
In 2008, 71% agreed that "the library is an excellent resource for kids to get help with their
homework"; today, 51% agree. In 2008, 53% agreed that "the public library does an excellent job of
helping prepare children for school," compared to 44% today. And, while just 24% of 2008 voters felt
that "libraries just aren't as important in kids' lives as they once were," 36% believe this in 2018.
Voters today are less enthused about library staff.
People who see library staff as:
Friendly and approachable (2008- 67%, 2018- 53%)
True advocate for lifelong learning (2008- 56%, 2018- 46%)
Knowledgeable about my community (2008- 54%, 2018- 42%)
Understands the community's needs and how to address them through the public library (2008- 48%, 2018- 42%)
Has excellent computer skills (2008- 50%, 2018- 42%)
Well known in the community (2008- 40%, 2018- 31%)
I don't know how these national results correlate to Mainers' perceptions but I think it shows we all need to keep up our efforts to tell our library stories, use data to demonstrate value, develop engaging strategic plans, and provide the highest level of customer service possible to show our communities why they should continue supporting their local libraries.
MSL Library Development staff offer many trainings and continuing education opportunities for you to improve your professional skills and improve your library's services. You can start with the MSL calendar to find a variety of helpful CE topics at http://evanced.info/maine/evanced/eventcalendar.asp and also encourage your staff to attend local conferences, workshops, and regional meetings. More about those in the next MSL Quarterly Communiqués coming to library directors next week. Deb
Deborah A. Clark, MLIS
Library Management Specialist
Maine State Library
Portland Public Library, Third Floor
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101
1-800-649-7696 Ext. 765
E-mail: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
"Great Libraries Make Great Communities"