May 18, 2022

A New Joint National Study From PLA/ALA/OCLC Reveals Voter Perceptions of Libraries

UPDATED March 22 Access the Supplemental Analysis, Complete Dataset, Survey Questions, and More

From an OCLC Media Release:

The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, in partnership with OCLC, today released the report, From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018.

The research updates OCLC’s seminal 2008 study that explored voter perceptions, use, and attitudes toward public libraries, librarians, and library funding.

The 2018 survey was again conducted by Leo Burnett USA, repeating questions and segmentation analysis from the original study, to allow for comparison with 2008 results.

Key findings include:

  • a majority of U.S. voters believe public libraries are essential to communities and a source of civic pride;
  • voters still highly value traditional library services such as free access to books and quiet areas, but also increasingly value the library as a community hub;
  • there continues to be a disconnect between the services libraries offer and public awareness and support for those services;
  • although a majority of voters are likely to support library funding at the local ballot box, fewer are committed to definite support than a decade ago; and
  • a majority of voters still do not realize that the primary source of library funding is local.

Source: From Awareness to Funding Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018 (via PLA/ALA/OCLC)


“While no industry has been immune from the effects of the significant societal shifts that have occurred over the past decade, this new research puts into context the resiliency and adaptability of libraries in the face of rapid and continuous change,” said Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO.


Source: From Awareness to Funding Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018 (via PLA/ALA/OCLC)

For people who miss the PLA Conference session, OCLC’s WebJunction will host a free webinar Voter Perceptions of Libraries: Getting From Awareness to Funding in 2018 on April 17.

The original research identified nine segments of the voting population based on six factors around voter behavior and attitudes toward funding, use of the library, perceptions of libraries and library staff. The 2018 report and both scheduled programs will revisit and update information about these segments, including Super Supporters, Probable Supporters and Barriers to Support.

Direct to Full Text Report (34 pages; PDF)

Direct to Infographic (1 page; PDF)

Additional Resources

Direct to Report Web Site (More Resources, Contact Information, etc)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.