Resource funded research into The Economic Value of Public Libraries was carried out in the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University during 1999‐2000. Examines some of the findings focusing on book borrowing and information seeking by a number of socio‐economic characteristics. In the light of these characteristics, considers how far public libraries contribute to social inclusion. Identifies seven ages of library use and discusses the library’s value to a person at each of these stages. Also considers the use of central and branch libraries, and therefore the value of each to various groups. Shows that, while book borrowing is spread fairly evenly across the population, information seeking is much less so, with those in most need of information least likely to seek it from a public library. Draws two conclusions. The first is that both value and social inclusion will be greater if libraries and library services are widespread. The second is that the record of UK public libraries in serving users across a wide socio‐economic spectrum is already good.
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