The function of the public library is changing, according to a new report from The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The report, "Library Services in the Digital Age," was compiled by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell from October to November 2012 in the US. The survey included 2252 respondents who are 16 years or older. From this data, they concluded that there needs to be a bigger collection of digital services that can supplement standard library services, such as signing out books and using reference desks.

Digital: A Supplement to Other Library Services

Libraries, no matter what they are used for, are important to just about everyone. According to the survey's results, 91 percent of respondents said that their community's library was a essential part of their and their families lives. Most of the time, libraries are not only seen as a place to borrow books, but a social center and place of learning. With the inclusion of computers in libraries over the past decade and more recently e-book borrowing programs, libraries can offer patrons more and more services. Unlike before, visitors don't have to rely on staff to help them find a particular book, as many libraries have a computer database, as well as e-books that users can borrow from the comfort of their own home. 

While 80 percent of those surveyed said that both borrowing books and having a reference librarian service is an essential part of the library experience they recognize that there is a technological demand..

In the report, 37 percent of respondents found that they would “very likely” use an "Ask an Librarian" service on a computer, while 36 percent that they would be “somewhat likely" to use this service. Others were looking for tools that would help them navigate the library better. 35 percent that they would probably end up using app-based library materials and programs, while 34 percent said that would try using GPS navigation to help them move about the library more easily.

In addition to this, there are two other services that have garnered a large amount of public support in the survey.