Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities

About this Report

This report is part of a larger research effort by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that is exploring the role libraries play in people’s lives and in their communities. The research is underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This report contains findings from a nationally representative survey of 6,224 Americans ages 16 and older fielded July 18-September 30, 2013. It was conducted in English and Spanish on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.4 percentage points. For analysis in the report is based on those who have ever visited libraries or used library websites, n=5,393 respondents ages 16 and older, and the margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Due to the large sample size, this report includes analyses of subgroups that are normally too small to report, such as Asian Americans. As the survey was conducted in English and Spanish, we were only able to capture the responses of English-speaking Asian Americans, who are not representative of all Asian Americans living in the United States. For instance, a 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that Asian Americans who say they are proficient in English are more likely to be younger, have higher levels of education, and are more likely to have been born in the United States. 2 Learn more at

Unlike standard Pew Research surveys of adults 18 and older, this report also contains data on Americans ages 16-17. However, any analyses of behaviors based on education level or household income level exclude this younger age group and are based solely on adults ages 18 and older, which is also noted throughout the report.

Disclaimer from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This report is based on research funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. The center studies U.S. politics and policy views; media and journalism; internet and technology; religion and public life; Hispanic trends; global attitudes and U.S. social and demo-graphic trends. All of the center’s reports are available at Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Alan Murray, President

Jon Cohen, Vice President, Research

Elizabeth Mueller Gross, Vice President

Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President, Special Projects

Andrew Kohut, Founding Director


© Pew Research Center 2013

  1. Interviews for the 2012 Pew Research Center survey of Asian Americans were conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, and Hindi.
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