The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new report today entitled How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities (PDF), that shows a very large majority of Americans value libraries, viewing them as critical to their communities and vital to providing services that ensure equality of opportunity for people who would otherwise be at a terrible disadvantage in life.
This is in contrast to a few privileged blowhards who've opined that the library is an obsolete institution in the age of the Internet -- and worse, an unaffordable luxury in a time of austerity and recession. The mission of libraries is to help the public navigate information and become informed -- a mission that is more important than ever. As Eleanor Crumblehulme said, "Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague."
Read on for the study's key findings.
95% of Americans ages 16 and older agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;
95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;
94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;
81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.
(Image: CuttingLibraries, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from daniel_solis's photostream)