A public library is a library that is accessible by the general public and is usually funded from public sources, such as taxes. It is operated by librarians and library paraprofessionals, who are also civil servants.
Who goes to the library ?
The profile of public library users is similar to that of internet users.
Although the internet is increasingly important as a source of information for a majority of Americans, most adults still use libraries. Some 53% reported going to a local public library.
The profile of public library users is similar to that of internet users. Those who visited libraries in the past year tend to be younger adults, with higher incomes, who have attended college. There are no significant differences in library usage by race and ethnicity. Those who use the libraries are more likely to make use of many sources of information, of which the public library is just one. Those who do not use libraries use fewer other sources of information as well.
By age, library use peaks among the young and then declines slowly, with a distinct drop-off after about age 50 years.
What do you call a person who goes to the library?
People who use the library are generally referred to as “patrons.” Their purpose in visiting does not matter — whether to peruse the books, listen to audio recordings, read newspapers, or to enjoy special events.
Conventionally, a lot of libraries opt to use the word “patron” – though I am not sure when this started.
But traditionally, there was also a term called “reader” – this is likely to be used in Reference Library (non-lending library) – where the most anyone can do is to read at the library.
Going further back – only Scholars and Researchers ever had any business in entering libraries.
But if you really want to be PC about it – the generic “library user” should be quite safe to use.
The person who approaches or comes to the library is called “A LIBRARY USER OR LIBRARY PATRON, You can also call the person “A CLIENTELE “
What people do at libraries and library websites
In addition to asking people about their general feelings about libraries and their patterns of patronage, Pew Internet’s survey explored in depth what people do at libraries:
Activities at libraries
Here is a rundown of the things people do at libraries among those who have visited a library or bookmobile in the past 12 months:
1. Borrow print books
Almost two-thirds (73%) of library patrons in the past 12 months also say they visit to borrow print books. Women are more likely than men to do this, as are parents of minor children and those with at least some college experience.
Our focus group members mentioned borrowing books more than any other activity. Several said they had recently started to borrow books more recently due to changes in economic circumstances, or when they retired. Others said that they began to borrow books more as their tastes in books changed, or when they simply ran out of space:
“As I got older, I bought more books and we moved a lot. As an adult, I moved a lot with our profession and I carted probably a roomful of books . . . Finally, I said ‘enough’ and we started going back to the library because we’re like this is—I don’t need to own all this anymore. So, now it’s more of ‘Let’s see if they have it at the library first before we buy it’ [mentality].
2. Research topics that interest them
Some 54% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to research topics that interest them.
3. Get help from a librarian
About half (50%) of those who have visited the library in the past year say they visit to get help from a librarian. African-Americans are more likely than whites to say they visit to get help from a librarian, as are those ages 50. In addition, some non-technology users are more likely to say they get help from librarians: That is true of those who do not own tablet computers, those who do not own e-book readers, and those who do not own smartphones.
4. Sit, read, and study, or watch or listen to media
Some 49% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit just to sit, read, and study, or watch or listen to media. African-American and Latino patrons are more likely to say they do this than whites. Those ages 18-29 are especially likely to cite this as a reason for their library visit in the past 12 months, as are urban residents.
5. Use a research database
About 46% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to use a research database.
6. Attend or bring a younger person to a class, program, or event designed for children or teens
Some 41% of library patrons in the past 12 months say they visit to attend or bring a younger person to a class, program, or event designed for children or teens. Parents of minors are especially likely to cite this as a reason, as are women, African-Americans, those ages 30-49, and people with at least some college experience.
7. Borrow a DVD or videotape of a movie or TV show
About 40% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to borrow a DVD or videotape of a movie or TV show. Parents of minors and those ages 30-64 are more likely than others to report this use of libraries. This service was mentioned by many of our focus group participants:
“We don’t have Netflix. A lot of people have Netflix subscriptions or whatever where they can see things right away, and with all the movie places like Blockbuster and Hollywood, those are gone . . . So I like the library because we can go get movies that we may want to watch, but we don’t want to own.”
8. Read or check out printed magazines or newspapers
About three in ten (31%) of library patrons in the past 12 months say they visit to read or check out printed magazines or newspapers. A focus group member said they stop by the library about once a week to read magazines: “It’s a wonderful way to spend some time if I’ve got it.”
9. Attend a meeting of a group
Some 23% of library patrons in the past 12 months say they visit to attend a meeting of a group to which they belong. Several focus group members who were involved in local groups said they appreciated this service, and some said their experiences using meeting spaces made the library seem more welcoming. Librarians in our online focus group also emphasized the library’s role as a community meeting space, especially in smaller communities that lacked other areas for groups to meet.
10. Attend a class, program, or lecture for adults
About one in five (21%) of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to attend a class, program, or lecture for adults. Women are more likely than men to report using the library for this purpose.
11. Borrow a music CD
Some 16% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to borrow a music CD. Urban and suburban residents are more likely to cite this as a reason for their library visits than are rural residents.