Parents of Minor Children More Engaged in Library Activities, Services

The vast majority of parents of minor children – children younger than 18 – feel libraries are very important for their children. Fully 94% of parents say libraries are important for their children and 79% describe libraries as “very important.” That is especially true of parents of young children (those under 6): 84% of them say libraries are “very important.” Library

That attachment to libraries carries over into parents’ own higher-​than-​average use of a wide range of library services. Compared with other adults who don’t have minor children at home, parents are more likely to have library cards, visit the library, use the library website, and use mobile devices to connect the library.  Indeed, 30% of parents say their patronage of libraries has increased in the past five years and the primary reason they cite for the increase is the presence of a child in their family.

The importance parents assign to reading and access to knowledge shapes their enthusiasm for libraries and their programs:

  • 84% of these parents who say libraries are important say a major reason they want their children to have access to libraries is that libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books.
  • 81% say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries provide their children with information and resources not available at home.
  • 71% also say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries are a safe place for children.

Almost every parent (97%) says it is important for libraries to offer programs and classes for children and teens.

Overall, mothers read books somewhat more often than fathers. In the past 12 months, mothers read an average of 14 books (mean), compared with 10 for fathers. Book-​reading mothers are more likely than fathers to have read a printed book in the past year (90% vs. 82%).

Among library users, mothers visit more frequently than fathers: 21% of library-​sing mothers visit the library weekly, compared with 10% of library-​using fathers who visit that frequently.


When it comes to newer services that libraries might create, parents living in households earning less than $50,000 are more likely than parents in higher income households to say they would be “very likely” to take advantage of:

  • classes on how to download library e‑books (44% vs. 29%)
  • e‑readers already loaded with library content (40% vs. 22%)
  • digital media lab (40% vs. 28%)
  • classes on how to use e‑readers (34% vs. 16%)

Parents’ ties to libraries are all the more striking because parents are more likely than other adults to have computers, internet access, smartphones, and tablet computers,” noted Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Analyst at the Pew Internet Project. “The presence of this technology in their lives might make them less reliant on libraries because they have access to information and media through other convenient platforms. But the opposite is the case – the more technology they have, the more they’re likely to take advantage of library services.”

To learn more about Library patrons, check out the Audience Interests & Intent report available on the Research Store at ad​-ology​.com.

[Source:  "Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project."  Pew Internet.  1 May 2013.  Web.  13 May 2013.]