On March 22 of this year, the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, in partnership with OCLC, released a report of their investigation of current perceptions and support from among U.S. voters and how they may have shifted since 2008, when OCLC published From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America, a national study of the awareness, attitudes, and underlying motivations among U.S. voters for supporting library funding.

This new study, From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018, was once more conducted by Leo Burnett, repeating questions and segmentation analysis from the original study, to allow for comparison with the 2008 results.

  • The majority of U.S. voters believe not only that public libraries are essential to communities, but are a source of civic pride as well.
  • Voters continue to place a high value on foundational library services, including prepaid access to books and technology, quiet areas, computers, and access to the Internet.
  • U.S. voters are increasingly finding value in the library as an essential local institution and community hub.
  • The U.S. electorate continues to experience a disconnect between the services libraries offer and awareness of and public support for those services.
  • The majority of voters continue to be confused about library funding sources, believing that most library funding comes from nonlocal sources.
  • While the majority of those voters polled are likely to support local library funding, this number is down from the 2008 study.
  • Most voters support other funding options, such as federal funding and monetary donations to the library.

The full report, the infographic, and additional resources are available at oc.lc/awareness2018.  There is also a recording of the OCLC WebJunction webinar that presented the results of this year’s study on April 18th.

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