OCLC has partnered with the American Library Association (ALA) and its Public Library Association (PLA) division to investigate current perceptions and support among US voters and how they may have shifted since 2008 when OCLC published From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America.
To allow for comparisons across segments and time, the new study is based largely on the original survey instrument and population (voters age 18 to 69 living in populations of 300,000 or less), yet expands queries into new types of library services, community impact, perceptions of funding sources other than taxes, and attitudes toward federal funding. Two population segments that were not part of the original research panel—people age 70 or older and people who live in large cities (populations greater than 300,000)—have been added and analyzed separately. The Methodology section (p. 30) details the methods and research questions used for this study in comparison to the original research and provides definitions of some of the terms used in this report.
This summary includes key findings from the 2018 research and highlights notable comparisons to 2008 results. The analysis shows that libraries remain valued institutions that most voters have a positive association with and find useful. There continues to be stalwart support for library funding in many communities as evidenced by the fact that the majority of local library ballot measures in recent years have passed. This new national voter data, however, indicates a softening in committed support for libraries over the past decade. Libraries and library advocates should take action to address this downward trend.