MINDS @ UW-Madison

Public Libraries as Financial Literacy Supporters

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Eschenfelder, Kristin R.; Arnott Smith, Catherine
Smith, C.A.; Eschenfelder K.R. "Public Libraries as Financial Literacy Supporters" A Report of the Wisconsin Center for Financial Security, 2011.
Aug 2011
library training; financial literacy; public library
This report describes several linked empirical studies that examine the activities of public libraries in increasing the financial literacy of their service population. It describes a qualitative field study of librarians? perceptions of the challenges in offering financial literacy-based information and services, and a parallel study of the perceptions of six ?partners? ? or outside organizations or individuals - that work with libraries to offer programs and services. It reports the results of a survey of the financial literacy programs and services offered by sample of public libraries and the priority audiences and topics of those programs and services. Finally, it includes an analysis of the finance- related hyperlinks contained on a sample of public library websites.
Our goal was to address the following research questions: How do librarians react to personal financial questions? What barriers exist to the successful handling of these questions by librarians? To what sources do librarians refer users with financial questions? What is the quality of financial literacy-supporting collections at selected public libraries? What is librarians? understanding of the government agencies (federal, state, local) to whom they can refer these users? In addition to asking librarians questions about the resources they used, we did a collection analysis to report on the age, subject focus and other pertinent characteristics of physical library holdings available to the public at these same libraries. We also sought to explore what financial literacy programming/services are offered through libraries across the nation through a Web survey of libraries involved in the ALA/FINRA Smart investing@your library program and the ALA/Federal Reserve Money Smart Week@Your Library program. The survey sought to inform the following research questions: What motivates libraries to offer financial literacy programming or services? What are the perceived priority subtopics of library financial literacy programming? Who are the perceived priority audiences for public library financial literacy programming? Who are the priority audiences for financial literacy programming and services?
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