[Irtalk] Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access” | Pew Internet Libraries

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 09:50:41 SAST 2014

One major finding in our research into Americans’ use of public libraries
is the extent to which libraries are synonymous not only with knowledge and
information, but with the tools needed to acquire it in the digital age. *Some
77% of Americans now think it is “very important” for public libraries to
provide free access to computers and the internet to the community, and 95%
think it is important overall.* (For comparison, 80% of Americans say that
it is “very important” for libraries to provide books to the community for

Qualitative work with library staff members echoes these findings. “Our
most popular area is the public access computers,” one librarian told us.
Many emphasized that they see the role of a public library enabling access
to information, regardless of format. “I believe public libraries should
move away from being ‘houses of knowledge’ and move more towards being
‘houses of access,’” one wrote. “This is what the public is asking for and
we are here to serve them.”

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