Survey Reveals Librarians Second Only to Doctors in Public’s Trust
Public Libraries Information Offer survey reveals that internet users trust library staff more than most other providers of online support and information.
Internet users trust library staff more than most other providers of online support and information, and public library staff are second only to doctors in terms of the trust placed in them by seekers of information, according to an evaluation commissioned by the UK Society of Chief Librarians and supported and funded by Arts Council England.
80% of the users surveyed through the Public Libraries Information Offer said that the support provided in libraries improved their level of understanding of online information and 70% said that it had improved their online knowledge and skills. Users said they would overwhelmingly recommend their public library’s online information to other people.
In the more than 3500 libraries housing over 30,000 computers, public library staff are helping new and unconfident users navigate the worldwide web, and libraries have helped more than 2.5 million people to go online since the Government’s Race Online scheme began in autumn of 2010.
As part of the Government’s shift to “digital by default” online services, SCL launched the Public Libraries Information Offer to assess and demonstrate the capability of libraries to help people use online services, especially those vital government services which are increasingly accessed online. The Public Libraries Information Offer completed a six-month pilot phase in May 2012.
Janene Cox, President of SCL, said: “The Government is shifting services online and we want to make sure that people understand how much they can do online in libraries, from paying their council tax to doing a health check. This information offer is helping us knock down barriers to online information, especially for those who are uncomfortable with using the web.”
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “Public libraries are not just places to borrow books. They are centres of knowledge and information that are rooted in their communities, trusted by those who use them. This research proves how valuable libraries are in helping citizens access information online in a digital age.”
The Public Libraries Information Offer evaluation clearly demonstrated the level of trust that citizens put in information accessed in libraries and mediated by library staff. The SCL National Information Offer is now in its second phase and will work with partners to publicise the role that libraries play in providing online information; identify what additional technology is required to ensure customers can navigate from national online resources to local information providers; ensure the quality of content at all public libraries in the UK; and ensure that the expertise and support given by staff to customers is uniformly excellent.