- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) - Libraries might have swapped card catalogs for computer kiosks a long time ago and faced the unprecedented explosion of information on the Internet. But the digital age still hasn’t changed one truth about them - people visit them to check out books.

Real books, the kind with pages you need overhead light to read and can put on a shelf when you’re done.

“People just like books,” said Jamie Lockwood, Manteno Public Library director. “They like the feel of them, and they like the smell of them. It’s weird.”

A Pew Research Center study found 48 percent of Americans who read a book last year had checked it out from a library. Borrowing books still outpaces the use of digital resources at libraries, such as computers, databases or wireless network access, although those uses are growing.

Even more, the use of printed books vastly outpaced the use of e-books and audio books. Less than 5 percent of all Americans who used a library utilized those resources. The percentage at the Bourbonnais Public Library was a little higher, however, reaching about 10 percent, said Diana Dillinger, library director.

Whereas 10,000 books are checked out in a typical month, a total of about 1,000 e-books and audiobooks are signed out. Interestingly, the number of e-books and audiobooks checked out has doubled since 2014, she said.

The appeals are remote access and everyone’s love affair with digital devices.

“They can borrow the book from wherever they are and not have to come to the library,” Dillinger said. “Then they can take it read wherever they want.”

Another hot area is research. About 22 percent of Americans used their library to conduct research utilizing both print and digital resources, according to the study. The bulk of the research isn’t being done by young children, either. It’s people older than 16, the survey found.

Lockwood isn’t surprised. She said a lot of research projects among younger people are done at school libraries and over the Internet, which can be accessed anywhere.

Many of Bourbonnais’ patrons research the job market utilizing the specialized databases libraries typically have for doing so. The upcoming presidential election has made politics a popular topic for research, as well. Patrons in Bourbonnais have been using the selection of political books, periodicals and databases to research candidates, she said.

“It’s really picked up,” Dillinger said. “That will slack off when the election season is over.”

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Source: The (Kankakee) Daily Journal, https://bit.ly/1qT8Fq0

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Information from: The Daily Journal, https://www.daily-journal.com

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