Poll finds U.S. residents appreciate their public libraries

Dec. 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Most U.S. residents like their public libraries although half say modern technology means they are less needed, a poll released Wednesday indicated.

The survey by the Pew Research Center found 90 percent said closing the local library would have an effect on the community with 63 percent describing the impact as "major." About two-thirds, 67 percent, said they and their families would be affected by the closing with 29 percent saying it would have a major impact.

Around 95 percent believe libraries help level the playing field in the United States by giving people a chance to succeed and the same percentage say they promote a love of reading and 94 percent that they improve the quality of life in an area. Four out of five, 81 percent, say alternatives to the services provided by libraries are hard to find.

Women, blacks and Hispanics, people with lower incomes or less education and the unemployed and retired are more likely to value libraries. So are those without Internet access at home.

More than nine out of 10, 91 percent, of those surveyed said they had used a public library at some point. Just over half, 54 percent, said they had done so in the past year.

But 52 percent of respondents said libraries are not as necessary as they used to be because of the Internet. Almost as many, 46 percent, disagreed.

Pew interviewed 6,224 people 16 and older between July 18 and Sept. 30. The poll has a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

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