Published on: 27.04.12
Source: Pressemitteilung Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V.
Almost one out of three persons aged 14 years and older used the services of public libraries in the past year in Germany. This is one of the results of a representative survey of 1,300 people aged between 14 and 75 years conducted by ‘Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V.’ (German Library Association) and the ‘Institute for research of reading and media’ of ‘Stiftung Lesen’ (Foundation Reading) funded by the Federal State Secretary for Culture and Media.
For the first time this survey investigated why many young people and adults do not visit public or municipal libraries (anymore) and which opportunities there are to get them (back). The ‘non-users’ or ‘no-more-users’ asked for extended opening times, more appealing facilities and interesting offers of events and media. But most impressive however: visiting libraries in childhood pays off - 62 % of today's library users have been there in younger ages with her parents, among the non-users or no-more-users these are only 42 %.
The study shows that municipal and local public libraries hold up well in the digital age: including 29 % of the interviewees just as many people use public libraries like in the first nationwide user study from 1996 in spite of digital media change. At the same time, the study says that digital offerings have great potential to attract further visitors of libraries.
Targeted investments that allow a higher up-to-dateness of the media, a wider selection of DVDs, CDs and digital media, and also a higher number of Internet workstations are only a few of the concrete measures with which libraries can increase their attractiveness - especially for young people, said Monika Ziller, chairman of the German Library Association. Currently just every fifth full-time managed public library provides online lending of E-books, audio books or other digital media.
A great opportunity to get users (back) could be longer opening times in the evenings and on Sundays, which supports a current Federal initiative for Sunday opening hours of libraries nationwide. Also facilities with more light and bright colors and also interesting events and media offerings are top on the wish list.
The early encouragement of children and the acquisition of parents as partners in education is formative for the reading pleasure later on. Without a living library landscape effective promotion of reading cannot succeed, said Sabine Uehlein, managing director ‘programs and projects’ of Foundation Reading. The study shows also: Those who have visited libraries in their childhood are more likely to remain library users later in life. Children should become acquainted early with libraries as given source of experience. The German Library Association recommends to expand binding cooperation agreements between libraries and schools and also kindergartens rapidly. Like this also children from learning distant homes could be reached, for whom visits to libraries are not part of the everyday life. This is where the commitment of countries and communities is also required. Awareness should be raised among parents through low-threshold offerings that attract them to go into libraries and get in touch with the services.
The Download of the entire survey in German language to be found here.