A recent Pew Research study examined how many Americans actually use their local libraries today, and what the characteristics of regular library users are. The Federalist points out that most of the people who visit their libraries are well-off and educated — people who can already afford to buy books. Those who cannot, and who would therefore benefit the most from free library services, hardly do.
The Federalist article also discusses the many forays into technology libraries have dabbled with, such as e-book and Blu-ray lending. Our local libraries in particular also lend out video games (a pet peeve of mine). Such an increase in technological service offerings has effected little change in the typical patron demographic though. After all, only the middle class can afford e-readers, Blu-ray players and X-boxes.
As a life-long library lover, I find these findings unfortunate and yet not really that surprising. What do you think? Are people using the library more or less today? Do you agree with publicly-funded libraries lending out video games and Blu-rays? How much do you use your library, and what inspires (or discourages) your use of it?