In my last blog, “Accessing E-Rate Category Two Funding to Improve Services to Library Patrons,” I talked about the evolution of libraries to keep up with our changing world. The libraries of the future are envisioned to provide access to a wealth of information in both print and electronic formats, and they are often the hub of learning, literacy, creativity, collaboration, community, and much more.
The release last month of the annual public opinion survey on libraries by the Pew Research Center illuminates some of these most important trends as viewed by a representative sample of U.S. citizens (2,004 people ages 16 and older). The report, Libraries at the Crossroads, reinforces that libraries are important community institutions and citizens want them to continue providing important legacy functions such as lending books and promoting community-wide literacy (Pew Research Center, 2015). However, the report speaks to the “crossroads” that libraries find themselves at and the “data painting a complex portrait of disruption and aspiration.” The disruption comes from the evolution from legacy services and a decrease in patron visits to the aspiration to meet demands for digital resources that are available anytime and anywhere. Overall, survey respondents indicated most strongly that they most definitely want libraries to

  • Offer free early-literacy programs to help young children prepare for school (85%)
  • Coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to kids (85%)
  • Offer programs to teach people, including children and senior citizens, how to use digital tools such as computers, smartphones, and apps (78%)
  • Offer programs to teach patrons about protecting their privacy and security online (76%)

Other important and relevant findings speak to libraries serving veterans; helping local businesses, job seekers, and those upgrading their work skills; embracing new technologies, such as 3-D printers; and providing services to help patrons learn about high-tech gadgetry.
The ENA team works with the K−12 education and library communities to promote partnerships and collaboration to support the shared mission of community literacy. We also support schools and libraries to ensure the integration of best-in-class turnkey technology solutions. Ensuring the availability of enterprise-class technology infrastructure to support patron services will only help encourage patron visits and position your libraries as technology-friendly facilities. How do you plan to innovate? The Pew Research Center report should serve as a guiding light and the results continue to signify the importance of libraries in our communities. If you are a library leader that wants to continue to evolve and innovate to stay up with patron demands and societal changes, please contact your ENA account service manager to talk about our latest products and services.