Public Libraries as Financial Literacy Providers

library-clipart-RcA4k77cLAs society’s financial functions become more complex, information driven, and technology focused, public libraries and librarians may begin to play a more significant role in financial literacy—both providing trustworthy information and offering training to increase the public’s capacity to navigate more complicated financial systems

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This report by Catherine Arnott Smith and Kristin Eschenfelder summarizes five linked empirical studies in which we examined the activities public libraries use to increase the financial literacy of their service populations.  First, we analyze the finance-related hyperlinks contained on a sample of Wisconsin public library websites.  Next, we describe the findings of interviews with librarians about their perceptions of the challenges of offering financial-literacy based information and services. We also summarize the results of on-site and remote examinations of the physical collections at each library site where interviews were conducted.  We describe the results of a survey of the financial literacy programs and services offered by a nation-wide sample of public libraries.  Finally, we explore the perceptions of eight participants that had partnered with libraries to offer programs and services.