The Role of Libraries in Advancing Community Goals

Posted on January 18, 2017

In September 2016, Amy Garner, Aspen Institute, appeared on GovLove to discuss a nationwide survey of local government officials’ perspectives on public libraries.

As a follow up to that conversation, we are providing you the findings of this survey and encourage you to use it as a discussion starter in your community.

From the Aspen Institute:

The survey, Local Libraries Advancing Community Goals, 2016, was designed by the Aspen Institute, ICMA and PLA and conducted by ICMA’s survey research team. It updates ICMA’s last survey on libraries (in 2010) and reveals what local government officials think about their own engagement with libraries, the state of library funding in their communities and the alignment of community priorities and the role of the library in addressing those priorities, including the expansion of library roles into less traditional service areas.

In a separate analysis of survey data, independent researcher John B. Horrigan highlights three variables that have a significant impact on responses: respondents come from communities with a population greater than 100,000; there is a direct governing relationship between the library and local government; and the library receives revenue from the county or municipality’s general fund. Additionally, a comparison of ICMA survey responses to Pew Research Center data on public responses to the same or similar questions found notable gaps between what local governments think that libraries should do in areas related to digital literacy, privacy and security, and what the public thinks the library’s role ought to be. Links to the survey results and John’s analysis are included in the attached press release.

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