In March, a group of New York library officials released a statement declaring that a “staggering infrastructure crisis” has crept up on the city’s public library system. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, one branch is “routinely forced to close on hot days” due to problems with air conditioning. Others are plagued with water-damaged books and facilities that are too small to accommodate everyone in their community.
General interest public libraries are no less necessary than they were in 1901, when Andrew Carnegie donated the equivalent of $147 million to construct 65 of them across New York City, but their focus is increasingly shifting away from books and toward things like English classes, job training workshops, community meeting spaces, or just places to read the news online for those without internet access.
While the public must continue to fight for these more practical resources, a number of oddball independent libraries cropping up around the North American continent offer an experience that can’t be found in their traditional counterparts. These boutique libraries are working to stretch our very idea about the word “library,” creating a real living community around the often very lonely act of reading.
If you’re trying to reach specific audiences, you can’t afford to ignore mobile-only users. As Pew Internet reports:
Young adults: 50 percent of teen smartphone owners, aged 12-17, say they use the internet mostly on their cell phone, according to a 2013 Pew Internet report on Teens and Technology. Similarly, 45 percent of young adults aged 18-29 reported in 2012 that they mostly go online with a mobile device.
Black and Hispanic adults: 51 percent of black Americans and 42 percent of Hispanic Americans who use a mobile device to access the internet say that’s the primary way they go online — about double the 24 percent of white Americans who say they rely on their mobile devices for access.
Low-income adults: People whose household income is less than $30,000 per year and people with less than a college education are also more likely to rely on their mobile devices for access — about 40 percent of people in these groups say they primarily use their cell phone to go online. Healthcare, non-profit, and government institutions which need to reach these populations should be aware that their audience is mobile-only.