Public Libraries Evolving to Meet Readers’ Needs in the Digital Age
Survey of 17,000 patrons shows library eBook borrowing on the rise, especially on mobile devices
CLEVELAND – September 30, 2015 – As the needs of communities change, public libraries have adapted to a world where more information lives in digital form, accessible anytime and anywhere. With 95 percent of U.S. libraries now offering eBooks and audiobooks, the use of digital content continues to grow: More than 120 million eBooks and audiobooks were borrowed from libraries in the first nine months of 2015, representing year-over-year growth of nearly 20 percent. In addition, September just completed another record month of digital circulation.
To understand patron behavior, leading eBook and audiobook platform OverDrive regularly conducts user surveys. The most recent survey, an extensive online poll of nearly 17,000 library website visitors, found that digital library users are loyal and avid readers, browsing deeper into digital collections, and are frequently using both the digital and physical branches.
Survey highlights include:
- Nearly 90 percent of those who borrow eBooks from libraries borrow one or more eBooks per month – and 65 percent borrow at least once per week.
- Library users are expanding their use of the library’s digital catalog. 50 percent of patrons have a specific Book in mind when visiting the library’s website or branch, but most (80 percent) continue to browse if that title is not available.
- Digital use is also remarkably aligned with physical library visits. 75 percent of survey respondents borrowed at least one eBook and print book in the same month, a 22 percent increase from 2012 (the last time the survey question was posed).
In a world on-the-go, more people are using mobile devices to access their next great read, and the library has adapted to serve changing preferences. Based on OverDrive network circulation data, more than 50 percent of all digital titles are borrowed from the library on a mobile device. As such, survey respondents ranked device compatibility as their most important criteria, with 33 percent indicating tablet and 25 percent smartphone as their preferred device for eReading. As recently as three years ago, eReader devices such as Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook were the most popular.
“These trends are why OverDrive is constantly focused on helping libraries onboard new users with a mobile-first strategy,” said Shannon Lichty, OverDrive’s director of library partner services. “In fact, beginning later this year, visitors to OverDrive-powered library websites will experience a completely reengineered website with a boost in speed and ease of use.”
As libraries change to meet the ongoing demands of their communities, the movement to digital content has had a positive effect. The American Library Association recently launched “Libraries Transform,” showcasing the changing nature of today’s libraries and elevating the critical role libraries play in the digital age. To find your local library, visit www.overdrive.com.
About the survey:
The OverDrive end user survey was conducted June 26-July 15, 2015 via thousands of OverDrive-powered public library websites in the United States. A total of 16,756 respondents completed all or part of the survey. Find the full survey report here.
OverDrive is the leading digital distribution platform, supplying the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 34,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. We support all major computers and devices, including iOS®, Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle® (U.S. only). OverDrive delivers all digital media on a single platform, and offers innovations such as OverDrive Read, the breakthrough EPUB and HTML5 browser-based reading experience, and narrated eBooks. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and is owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. For more information, visit www.overdrive.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our blog.
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