How Do Latinos Use, Rate Public Libraries? New Study

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In this Jan.10, 2015 photo, a mobile wireless internet hotspot lay on a desk among piles of books at the Free Public Library in New York. Verena Dobnik / AP

Immigrant Hispanics are less likely than US-born Latinos and other Americans to have ever been to a public library, but when they do, foreign-born Latinos rate library services higher than other groups, according to a new Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends report.

About seven-in-ten Latinos ages 16 and older say they have visited a public library or bookmobile at least once in their lifetime, less than their Black counterparts at 80 percent and Whites at 83 percent.

The number gets lower for foreign-born Hispanics; 60 percent of all immigrant Latinos have visited a public library in their lives and of this group, only one-third say it is “very easy” to visit a public library in person, according to the study.

Pew reports that a reason immigrant Hispanics may find public libraries more difficult to access is the lack of Spanish-language materials at these places.

But Hispanic immigrants who have utilized public libraries are two and even three times more likely than whites to give a high rating to library services such as internet resources, youth programs, librarian assistance and even its safety and quiet.

The survey, which was conducted in English and Spanish, shows that Latinos overall - more than Blacks and Whites - say a library closing would have an impact on their daily lives and their community.

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--Kelly Carrion

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