Public libraries improve the quality of life in communities and are centers that offer financial and social benefits for community development. This study aims to describe how people perceive public libraries and how the characteristics of libraries and the people in a community influence library use. Data is collected from purposive samples of thirteen librarians, eighteen users and twenty-seven non-users in Mandalay through in-depth interviews and participant observation at libraries. The information that different types of users need is determined by their respective personal profiles. The majority of non-users rely on the Internet, newspapers, radio and TV to fulfill their information needs. These resources provide fast and easy access to rich data sources. Whereas library users seek information from both libraries and the resources listed above, they seek information from printed books more frequently than the Internet or social media because data from printed books is more reliable than data online sources. However, there is a group of non-users who are unwilling to seek information from any of these sources. The study finds that those users and non-users who are elderly, female, married and middle-aged workers have the greatest difficult in accessing libraries compared to others. In addition, people have difficulty accessing libraries because they struggle to make a living and do not read as a hobby. The study also finds that library use correlates with the location of the library and how well-known it is. Library activities and the presence of Wi-Fi attract more people. Moreover, technology and entertainment have a high impact on the use of libraries. Finally, users perceive they gain social, financial, physical, mental and cognitive benefits by using libraries at the individual , community and country levels.
Key words: Public library, Information needs, Use of library, Impacts, Mandalay, Library use
Yone Kyi Yar was founded by university students and active youth in Mandalay on 22nd July, 2011. At first, its main activities were weekly book clubs, group discussion and topic presentations. At the end of 2013, members of Yone Kyi Yar decided to take another step forward. Then, Yone Kyi Yar rent a building and founded a free public library and training center in Mandalay to serve the community better. Then it also expanded new activities such as intellectual talks and capacity building trainings.