A new report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project offers mixed news for public libraries. While the findings indicate that young adults are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past 12 months, and that Millennials are still using libraries—and using library websites even more—the report also found that most younger Americans remain unaware of all the services libraries offer.
The latest report, released today, is drawn from the core findings from three major national surveys of Americans ages 16 and older, pulling together "several years of research into the role of libraries in the lives of Americans and their communities with a special focus on Millennials, a key stakeholder group affecting the future of communities, libraries, book publishers and media makers of all kinds, as well as the tone of the broader culture."
Among the survey’s notable findings:
- 36% of Millennials say they know little or nothing about the local library’s services, compared with 29% of those 30 and older.
- 98% of those under 30 use the Internet, and 90% of those Internet users say they using social networking sites.
- Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%).
- Despite their embrace of technology, 62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the Internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that.
- Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those ages 30 and older. And young adults have caught up to their elders in e-reading, with 37% of adults ages 18-29 reporting that they have read an e-book in the past year.
- Among those ages 16-29, public library visits dropped. The number of those saying they visited a library went from 58% in November 2012, to 50% in September 2013, with the largest drop occurring among 18-24 year-olds.
- Meanwhile, 36% of younger Americans used a library website in the previous year, up from 28% in 2012, with the largest growth occurring among 16-17 year-olds (from 23% to 35%).
While previous reports from Pew Research have focused on younger Americans’ e-reading habits and library usage, the latest report hopes to shine a light on younger Americans’ engagement with libraries, as well as explore their broader attitudes about technology and the role of libraries in the digital age.