Library traffic for Americans 16 and older is down, according to a Pew Research Center survey. 46% said they visited a physical library or book mobile – down from 53% in 2012. It didn’t report on frequency of visits. 22% said they used a library website last year – down from 30% in 2013.
This is bad news all around. If people don’t visit libraries, book publishers, authors, and society lose out. We need to reverse course, immediately.
What could increase library visits and website activity?
1. Hold more events, such as author speaking appearances, and properly promote them to the community.
2. Offer free classes that promote useful skills –
· Job and career searches
· College searches
· Digital skills
· Community Activism
3. Stack books that people want to read or need and can’t afford otherwise, such as certain databases or major textbooks.
4. Turn the library into a community hub and gathering place. Serve food/snacks and make people feel welcome.
5. Expand hours – be open in the evenings, when adults are around – and be open on the weekends. Hour cutbacks kill traffic.
Libraries help not just children, the homeless, the poor, or the elderly. They can and should serve adults who work, go to school, and are living active lives. Our libraries need to do a better job of advertising what they offer.
Libraries have collections of materials that can’t be found elsewhere or purchased in a store. They have librarians who can help people search and track down what they are looking for. They have events and speakers. Libraries are free and should be packed and not struggling both for funding and patron visits.
If libraries close or shrink – and stores struggle – we'll lose a sense of community. People will just find what they think they need or want online, without giving themselves a chance to discover things and to interact with others. We must save libraries now and not let our nation fall from being one that interacted publicly to one that isolates itself behind closed doors.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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