USA Today logoUSA Today has posted the results of a survey of “youth 8 – 18,” in which they were asked whether they “have visited a public library or its website in the last year.” They were also asked whether they visited the library for personal or school use. Answers: “Personal use” 78%, “For school” 67%, “Read there” 34%, and “Visit website” 34%.

Those of us who are library folks, I’m sure, aren’t too fond of the way the question was asked: “When was the last time you visited a public library or its website?” The options were, “Can’t remember,” “Within past year,” “More than a year ago,” or “Never.” Gee, most of those responses just warm the proverbial cockles of any library staff person’s heart, don’t they? We all know plenty of folks who visit us more than once a year, and it would be nice if they were acknowledged, too.

At least the results warm the heart slightly. When I voted in the online “all ages” version of the poll, 58 percent said “Within past year,”26 percent voted “More than a year ago,” 13 percent answered, “Can’t remember,” and only three percent said, “Never.”

As someone who has worked on several library websites in the past, I’m not certain whether to be encouraged or discouraged by the 34 percent of young people who have visited a library website. Sometimes it seems to me that few kids do. But that think that number should get us working harder on attracting more kids to our sites. We need Flash games, I think. Mario Book-Kart, or something.