Earlier this month my co-worker handed me an article discussing the results of a recent Pew Research Center Internet Project study titled “Millennials still checking out public libraries.” A proud member of the “me” generation and public library advocate, the title was all the convincing I needed to read on. The article reports on the study’s latest work, which pulled together research on the role of libraries in the lives of Americans.
The overall consensus: Millennials still frequent libraries. As a group, Millennials are just as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months. The study points out that the reasons Millennials engage with public libraries are often based on “key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision.” This really rings true for me. I associate libraries with many specific life moments: group projects in high school, resource papers in college and job searches using the free Wi-Fi in my early 20s.
The study also reports that Millennial Americans are more likely to have read a book in the last year than those 30 years old and above. As a member of a seasonal book club (members all under 30) I wasn’t surprised to find that my peers are reading. The survey results I did find surprising? Sixty-two percent of Americans under 30 years old agree that there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the Internet.” By comparison, only 53 percent of older Americans said they believe that. Apparently my technology-loving peers are looking up from their screens more often than I thought.
The report calls younger Americans’ engagement with public libraries “complex and sometimes contradictory” and it is easy to see why. Millennials may frequent libraries and find value in resources outside of the Internet but they do not place a high priority on libraries. Only 19 percent of Millennials surveyed say their library’s closing would have a major impact on them and their family, compared with 32 percent of older adults.
Check out the full report here and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!