Young adults are the most likely users of a library, as well as active readers.
The role of libraries in the digital age has been much debated as books go electronic. While print still dominates among readers, e-books are gaining traction, especially among younger consumers. In January, almost half of American adults under 30 said they had read an e-book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 31 percent in late 2012. But despite perceptions that Millennials are addicted to their screens, newly published research from Pew finds that young adults are the most likely users of a library, as well as active readers.
According to Pew, 50 percent of Americans ages 16-29 say they have visited a library in the past year, vs. 47 percent of people 30 and up. (But the percentages dropped year-over-year for both cohorts.) Meanwhile, the gap between generations widens when it comes to website usage: 36 percent of the under-30 group say they used a public library website in the past year, compared with 28 percent of the 30-plus readers. And in line with these higher percentages, 88 percent of younger respondents had read a book in the past year, vs. 79 percent of Americans aged 30-plus. But overall, as this chart shows, older people are more likely to value a library’s resources.
As major libraries struggle to envision what function they’ll play in the digital future, it’s likely that many will focus on building a “third space” for information gathering, access to technology, social connections and various forms of learning.