Library Usage Amongst the Poor

March 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm 2 comments

Publicist and book reviewer Matt Staggs links to a national study in the USA released from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that illustrates the necessity for public libraries amongst those living below the poverty line.

  • 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
  • 37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.
  • 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
  • Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

Concrete evidence of the importance of public libraries, especially during rough economic times. And I love that Matt includes the following quote from writer Anne Herbert: “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”


Entry filed under: Public Libraries.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wong Jin Fu Shaun  |  April 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I was really shocked after reading this; I never expected that public libraries were that important. Coming from a well-to-do family, I just needed to ask my parents to buy the book for me when I wanted to read. Hardly did I vist libraries for borrowing books, need to say use their computers.
    This has allowed me to realise how much the poor need the libraries, and in future, I would be able to better utilise these facilities provided to me better.

    -Shaun Wong 1O4(30)

  • 2. Jason Erik Lundberg  |  April 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    The study specifically targets public library use amongst the poor in the USA, but this is an issue facing Singapore as well, and I think that a lot of the findings could also be applied here.


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