Study of the Ministry of Culture: the progress of supply and digital resources in libraries

The Ministry of Culture publishes the results of the 2021-2022 study on digital resources in public reading libraries. Commissioned directly to Ipsos, this study focuses on digital resources in municipal, inter-municipal and departmental libraries. It also makes it possible to measure the impact of the health crisis.

The number of libraries offering digital resources differs. According to the study, the larger a library, the more likely it is to offer digital resources. Indeed, 83% of the libraries of cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants offer a digital offer, and 90% of the departmental libraries also offer such an offer. On the other hand, we observe that 46% of the libraries located in towns with 5,000 to 20,000 inhabitants offer these services, and only 19% for those with less than 5,000 inhabitants.

Furthermore, between 2019 and 2020 there is a total increase of 85% in the number of new subscribers to digital resources in libraries, especially for libraries in large cities with an increase of 79%. An increase due to the confinements caused by the health crisis.

In addition, from the responses collected in 2014, 514 libraries state that they have digital resources. Among the departmental libraries, 17 are in the same situation.

The acquisition of these digital resources

On the budget side, access to digital resources represents 22% of spending on documentary resources for large community libraries (that is, 41,874 euros in 2020), and 20% for departmental libraries (that is, 50,826 euros in 2020). It is much lower for cities with less than 5,000 inhabitants and for those between 5,000 and 20,000, with 13% (that is, 1,013 euros in 2020) and 12% (that is, 3,220 euros in 2020) respectively. A budget that continues to increase by 5% for all libraries from 2020 to 2021.

Regarding the difficulties encountered by libraries in the acquisition of digital resources, the study reveals several. These are mainly financial (25%), but can also be related to the complexity of the digital offer (11%) or be technical difficulties (7%). Also, the larger a library is, the more it faces these obstacles. This is the case, for example, of 86% of municipal libraries with more than 20,000 inhabitants and 77% of departmental libraries. However, we observed a lower rate of difficulties encountered for libraries in cities with 5,000 to 20,000 inhabitants with 65%, and for libraries in cities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants with 59%.

The starting points of the investigation.

The study on digital resources in public reading libraries echoes an initial survey carried out in 2013-2014 by the Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with Réseau Carel.

The new study focuses on two goals. First, to have recent data on digital resources in municipal, inter-municipal and departmental libraries, such as the number of libraries that offer digital resources for other libraries, or the number of libraries that make acquisitions. Second, to measure the impact of the health crisis on the digital offer of libraries and the use of digital resources by users.

This survey gathers the answers of the libraries of 2014. Of these, 1,682 come from localities with less than 5,000 inhabitants, 222 from between 5,000 and 20,000 inhabitants, 91 from more than 20,000 inhabitants and 19 departmental libraries.

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