Online engagement and expectations between young people and libraries in Edinburgh: A study on audience development in the digital age
As a place of information, learning and research, libraries have played an important role in society and the passing on and searching of information and knowledge. However, libraries have become community spaces that promote culture, exchange, and creativity through activities such as reading groups, writing workshops or special events like author Q&As. Through the constant modernisation of society and technological advancements, libraries have adopted a more developed online presence, which is not only used as a way to make information accessible for more people, but also as a tool to engage with different audiences. Due to their age and higher affiliation with the digital world, younger generations have been a desired audience segment for libraries to engage with online, although not always successfully. The Covid-19 pandemic forced cultural organisations, libraries included, to temporarily move entirely online and thus, they have had to strengthen their online presence not only with the aim of keeping up their service but also to keep connected to their audiences. This study aims to look at how libraries have been developing online strategies to engage with younger audiences, more specifically those between the ages 16 to 25. Through the data obtained from surveying these young people on their habits and expectations of engaging with libraries online, interviewing members of the council on how the library network in Edinburgh works, and surveying some employees of libraries, this research has been able to collect information from all the different parties involved in this topic. This has enabled the study to compare and contrast the different views on online engagement with libraries as well as discover the main challenges and develop possible recommendations that could help libraries create a more defined online presence which engages more young people.