A column by Harvey MacKay in my local newspaper (www.fresnobee.com) caught my attention today. The title of the column was “Start new year with a new love of learning.” In the column, he proposes a new year’s resolution “a steady diet of learning” and “You don’t go to school once for a lifetime; you are in school all of your life.” Sounds good to me. Towards the end of the article, he wrote:
“We live in a sad time when you consider the following statistics, which I found recently:
- Only 14% of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
- 51% of the American population never reads a book of more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education.
- 73% of all books in libraries are never checked out.”
It was this last statistic that really caught my attention. I had never read this statistic and was not able to find the source of this statistic. I was able to find a report by the National Endowment of the Arts entitled “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America.” (2004). This report does talk about the reading habits of the 17,000 people they interviewed.
However, I found nothing about the percentage of books checked out of libraries. If this is a true statistic, then I wonder if indeed libraries are becoming obsolete in their current form. I wonder if the same is true in school libraries? academic libraries? I did email Mr. Mackay to ask about the source of this statistic.
And, perhaps I missed the report that does show the ways people now use libraries?