Modeling the impact of individuals’ characteristics and library service levels on high school students’ public library usage : a national analysis
Sin, Sei-Ching Joanna
Date of Issue2012
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
Information behavior (IB) and public library usage studies seldom simultaneously analyze individual-level characteristics and community-level information service factors. Thus, it is uncertain whether changes in community-level factors, such as an increase in public library funding and service level, make a difference in an individual's library usage after differences in personal characteristics are accounted for. Applying the person-in-environment (PIE) framework designed to integrate individual agency and sociostructural factors in IB research, this study used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the factors influencing a student's frequency of public library usage for schoolwork, leisure, and Internet access. It mapped and merged a nationally representative survey of 13,000 U.S. 12th graders with census tract data and public library statistics. The SEM findings indicate that school information environment, frequency of school library use, race/ethnicity, and home computer availability were among the top three factors affecting public library usage for schoolwork, leisure, and Internet access. More importantly, library service levels had a positive impact on students’ library usage in terms of frequency of use. Specifically, even after personal differences such as each student's socioeconomic status and achievement motivation were controlled for, higher service levels in the student's neighborhood public library contributed to more frequent library usage. The findings pinpoint the benefits for individual-level IB study to incorporate etic measures of community-level factors. The findings also suggest that continuous effort to fund high levels of public library services—particularly in disadvantaged areas—is worthwhile. Such efforts should be encouraged.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Communication::Communication theories and models
Library & information science research