Kelly Foss
Head librarian Cheryl Inboden noted, "This library would not be here with the books in it without you all."

When was the last time you went to a library to read and think? We want Utah residents to know that librarians and libraries support reading and thinking.

Librarians have witnessed a decline throughout the state of Utah in information seeking, reading and applying information to life situations. This information is according to an information literacy study conducted by Southern Utah University and presented at the annual conference of the Utah Library Association held May 17-19, 2017, at the Sandy Expo Center. Preliminary data showed that reading declines amongst Utah students after elementary school.

In fact, not only do people in Utah read less as they grow older, adult Utahns appear to be reading less than previous generations in general. This information is consistent with a national trend. According to the Pew Research Center, only 72 percent of adults read at least one book, even partially, in 2015. This number was down from 79 percent in 2011, and recent surveys indicate that this declining trend is continuing.

This is alarming to librarians because evidence shows that reading is not only a learning or leisure activity, it also increases our awareness of the world around us, reduces stress, boosts confidence and gives us the ability to adapt our brains to think about things in new ways. These benefits start to develop when we are read to as children, continue to grow when we are in school and, in fact, improve the quality and richness of our lives throughout all of our years.

Librarians are dedicated to helping people find the information they need in order to read and think about elements of their lives and to better their lives. With thousands of librarians in Utah and hundreds of libraries, bookmobiles and untold digital collections, we serve as a source for gathering information, checking facts, asking questions, reading a range of material and contemplating ways of incorporating into one’s life what one has read. Libraries are also safe spaces for people of all ages to gather for conversations or to explore a book in quiet solitude.

We urge our fellow Utahns to talk with librarians and use their libraries to seek information, read, explore, check facts, connect with others, consider sources and, of course, think. Reading helps us to think and makes our lives better, so come read and think at your library.

Allyson Mower, associate librarian and head, Scholarly Communication & Copyright, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Shane Wallace, assistant librarian, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Anne Diekema, assistant librarian, Sherratt Library at Southern Utah University

Greg Hatch, librarian and head, Creativity and Innovation Services, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Rick Anderson, librarian and associate dean, Collections & Scholarly Communication, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Marnie Powers-Torrey, associate librarian and head, Book Arts Program, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Ian Godfrey, director of facilities, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Adriana Parker, associate librarian, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Jessica Colbert, assistant librarian, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Rebekah Cummings, assistant librarian, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Anne Morrow, associate librarian and head, Digital Scholarship Services, Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Alfred Mowdood, librarian and head, Faculty Services, Marriott Library at the University of Utah