05/25/2012 - Public libraries are attempting to reinvent themselves in the digital age. The Philadelphia Research Initiative report, The Library in the City: Changing Demands and a Challenging Future, found these institutions “have rarely been as popular as they are today and rarely as besieged.”
Urban libraries have expanded to being “society’s default provider of computer and Internet access,” and “are fulfilling what is sometimes called their ‘shadow mandate,’ supporting and complementing the work of other public agencies,” said the report, which looked at libraries in 14 cities.
Philadelphia’s Free Library, feeling the impact of recent budget cuts, has struggled to meet the greater demand for services. Budget cuts have brought on staffing shortages and temporary, unscheduled closings of some branches, which have affected library patronage, according to the study. See the full report at www.pewtrusts.org/philaresearch.