Research Study Reveals the Internet’s Impact on Libraries and Museums

IMLS Announces Results of Study on the Internet’s Impact on Museums and Libraries

MIAMI, FL—Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Anne-Imelda Radice released results of InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information March 6 at the 9th annual WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World in Miami. This new report offers insight into the ways people search for information in the online age, and how this impacts the ways they interact with public libraries and museums, both online and in person.

“Museums and libraries are alive and well in the digital world!” Radice said. “The InterConnections report shows how people currently search for information and makes the case that the libraries and museums must provide service both online and in person.”

IMLS sponsored this national study through a cooperative agreement with a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research team led by José-Marie Griffiths and Donald W. King, recognized leaders in information research. Their findings are based on five surveys of 1,000 to 1,600 adults each that were conducted during 2006. The study found that:

  • Libraries and museums are the most trusted sources of online information among adults of all ages, education levels, races, and ethnicities.
  • Libraries and museums rank higher in trustworthiness than all other information sources including government, commercial, and private Web sites. The study shows that the public trust of museums and libraries migrates to the online environment.
  • The explosive growth of information available in the “Information Age” actually whets Americans’ appetite for more information. People search for information in many places and since the use of one source leads to others, museums, public libraries, and the Internet complement each other in this information-rich environment.
  • The Internet is not replacing in-person visits to libraries and museums and may actually increase onsite use of libraries and museums. There is a positive relationship between Internet use and in-person visits to museums and public libraries.

The InterConnections report provides evidence that public libraries and museums are thriving in the Internet Age as trusted providers of information to people of all ages.

To view the report, please go to http://interconnectionsreport.org.The 2008 WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World on March 6, 2008. The annual late winter WebWise Conference draws museum, library, information systems, and other professionals to explore new research and innovation in digital technology. The 2008 conference, co-hosted by IMLS and The Wolfsonian–Florida International University (The Wolfsonian–FIU), with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, highlights the growing convergence between libraries and museums in collection and information management. For more information, go to http://webwise2008.fcla.edu.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.