Today, the Pew Research Center released a new report titled â€œYounger Americans and Public Libraries: How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries’ role in their lived and communities.â€ This report surveys younger Americans ages 16-29, which they found were three different generations, according to reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries. The youngest of the three generations is comprised of high schoolers (ages 16-17), the next generation is college-aged (18-24), and the third generation is 25-29. Library usage among these groups together is significantly higher than those of older generations with 50% reporting having used a library of bookmobile and 36% reporting having used a library website (this is up from 28% in 2012) within the previous 12 months.
Despite being more likely to use a library or its resources they were less likely to say that closing a library would have a major impact on their family or their community. Of those under 30 only 19% say that closing a library would have a major impact on their family and 51% say it would have a major impact on their community, compared to older adults responding 32% and 67% respectively. From the report: “Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with 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.” They found that socioeconomic status played a roll ‘ in whether younger Americans and adults found the library to be important. Potentially another aspect fueling this perceived lack of impact of libraries could be that 36% of Millennials say they know â€œnot muchâ€ or â€œnothingâ€ about what the local library offers.
Younger Americas’ do describe libraries as warm, welcoming places. Younger patrons are more likely than older adults to say they have had a negative experience at a library but this is only 11% vs. 8%, the vast majority of both groups have not. 52% of those 16-29 disagreed that â€œpublic libraries have not done a good job keeping up with newer technologiesâ€, while 43% agreed.
One point on which younger Americans do see libraries playing an important roll is giving everyone’ a chance to succeed, with job searching help and young adult programming being important to them.
This post just scratches the surface of the report. Don’t forget to check out the full report!