Why I picked it up: Museum-goers tend to be readers, but are all readers museum-goers? Probably not. I don't expect this report to tell me why some readers don't visit museums, but it will likely tell me a bit more about information consumption. And how a very analog device is surviving in a digital world.
Source: Pew Research Center. I trust them and their methodology.
Implications for museums: People still look to certain types of media for information, and books are a key one, with 4/5 of readers turning to books (among other sources) to research specific topics - that is 60% of all Americans.
Of course, in our world of alternative facts and fake news, the question is will that be a boon, or challenge, for books (and libraries) … and for museums. I'll be curious how this data may shift over the next few years, as they resample.
Additionally, signs are that we are shifting out of a period where early prognostications suggested that everything that could be digitized, would be, and that digital was better. Now, there is a growing realization that analog and digital resources work well together to provide individuals with what they need in the format that works best for that need. Sometimes that's digital (collections databases, blogs, etc.). Sometimes that's analog (long-form reading).
Overall, I think that is good news for museums, which are, generally, rather analog places one visits for real-life experiences. Digital programming extends a museum's potential reach, certainly, but doesn’t serve the same function as an actual visit. Nor should we expect it to. They serve different purposes and needs. (Though all this may change when VR gets really good and overcomes some of its inherent flaws.)
Read or skip? Skip. I'll keep following what Pew releases and update as needed. Though if you are really interested, it only takes about 15 minutes to read.
Full citation: "Book Reading 2016." Research report published by Pew Research Center. Released September 2016.
Have a suggestion for my reading list? Email it to me at susie (at) wilkeningconsulting (dot) com.
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the lands of the Duwamish people, whose ancestors have lived here for generations. I thank them for their ongoing care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.