According to a 2009 survey visits to public libraries nationwide rose 19% between 1997 and 2007. During that same time period circulation increased by 12%.
Between 2000 and 2007 the use of Internet terminals increased by 90% (public libraries are the only source of free Internet access). In addition, expenditures on electronic materials increased by 81% between 1997 and 2007.
Most of the above statistics have been discussed in the media during our current economic recession. Library advocates use these statistics to stress the growing need for public library services. However, there are other public library trends that demonstrate a wider diversity of services that patrons need and expect.
- Electronic databases with remote access are replacing print resources for journals, magazines, newspapers and reference materials in ever increasing numbers. Patrons require research assistance to help navigate these databases.
- Wireless local area networks are becoming commonplace in libraries as patrons use the library as a working space.
- Demand for down loadable electronic books. The ability to order and renew all library items online.
- Help with online job applications as America's leading companies require potential hourly employees to submit applications electronically
- Assistance creating e-mail accounts
- The growing need for subscription job databases and links to web-based job sites.
- Assistance creating resumes and cover letters
- More and more state and federal government services are moving online. Consequently, patrons need help downloading state and federal tax forms and instructions; Registry of Motor Vehicle forms, and unemployment forms.
- Low income patrons have come to rely on free tax preparation services
- Access to civil service exam materials online
- Classes in basic computer skills
- The new generation of library users want to find information online. They expect portals that combine book catalogs, e-journals, and reference materials
- The new generation also expects virtual reference (answering reference questions electronically in real-time). Virtual reference is the current extension of remote-based services.
- The new generation participates heavily in online interactive group spaces. Libraries now use these tools (blogs, microblogging, my space, facebook) to build awareness of library programs and services as well as reader's advisory
- The library is one of the only free sources patrons have for ESL services and resources