September was Library Card Sign-Up Month so I decided to do a survey on social media about library cards. I queried my acquaintances on Facebook, set up a Twitter poll, and asked people who read my previous blog post to simply let me know if they had an active public library card. The results were very interesting and I will share them.
But first, I want to make it clear that this experiment was just for fun and my own curiosity. I’m aware that my method of surveying people was completely unscientific and can in no way be considered a random or unbiased sample of the actual population. (Several people on Twitter were very keen to tell me this, as if I didn’t already know.) So, if you want, you can take the results with a grain of salt. I still think it’s cool to see how people responded.
On my blog
Five people responded and 100% of them have active public library cards.
103 people responded.
93% have active public library cards.
6% do not.
1% did not know.
I wonder if these results are skewed by the fact that Facebook responses are from people that I know, and I tend to know a lot of book-lovers who tend to also be library users. Also, I wonder if the non-anonymous nature of responding to my question means that people without library cards were less likely to respond for fear of being shamed somehow. (Let me be clear: there should be no shaming of people without library cards! Encouragement, maybe, but no shaming.)
55,132 people responded.
66% have active public library cards.
31% do not.
3% did not know.
This poll was anonymous and not limited to just people I’m friends with, so I suspect the results are a bit more representative of the American public as a whole (although the poll was certainly not limited to Americans.)
In fact, according to a 2017 American Libraries article, approximately 2/3 of Americans have a public library card. (Although I don’t know where the magazine got its data from, I assume it’s from a reputable source.)
What Else Did I Learn?
One of the things that pleased me most in looking at the survey responses was how dang proud public library card holders seem to be. Clearly, their library card is a valuable item. As a future librarian, it warms my heart to know that public libraries’ services are being used by so many people.
I also got a kick out of the fact that so many people do not just have one public library card, but multiples from different library systems. (I myself have 2 library cards – one from the MidYork Library System where I live and one from the Onondaga County Public Library System where I used to live and currently go to school.)
On Twitter, I learned that in Germany you have to pay 15-20€ per year to use the library, depending on the library’s size. And in some European countries, there’s no such thing as a separate library card, one just uses one’s national ID card to check out books instead.
So what do you think about these results? Is it what you expected? If you had to poll your own group of friends, what do you suspect the answer would be?