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New data mined in 2016 and released just a few weeks ago by the Pew Research Center shows that Millennials are more likely to visit public libraries than any other adult generation.
It’s true! About 53% of Millennials visited a public library or bookmobile in the last year, compared to 45% of Gen Xers and 43% of Boomers.
The first question you’re going to ask, if you’re like me, is “Why?”
Truly, there could be any number of reasons why Millennials visit public libraries at a higher rate than any other generational category of Americans. Here are a few that came to my mind:
First, it could be because Millennials are being educated at a higher rate than Gen Xers or Boomers.
Because the age range of Millennials is from ages 18-35, it is very possible that college or other educational research requirements are sending just over half of Millennials to their public libraries.
Second, Millennials are likely attending public libraries because they’re taking their children to public libraries. I never go to public libraries anymore because it seems like I can find anything I want online, but if I had kids, I know I’d be a public library regular.
I despised reading when I was a kid because no book I ever read was as fun as playing one of my video games.
But my mom, like the good parent she was (and is), enrolled me in the summer reading program every summer and made sure I earned my Book It! buttons every school year.
It is likely that Millennial parents are going to public libraries simply because they’re taking their kids to borrow another stack of picture books or to try (and fail) to reserve the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
It is notArthur’s Computer Adventure likely they are taking their kids to the library to play like I would beg my mom to do for me.
Like I said before, I don’t go to public libraries very often in this season of life, so I am quite unaware of all of the new features they are adding.
Relatively high library use by Millennials might be related to changes that many public libraries have undergone in the past 20 years. Previous Pew Research Center surveys have documented how extensively people use computers and internet connections at libraries, as well as how interested they are in extra services such as literacy programs for young children, meeting spaces for community groups, and technology “petting zoos” that provide opportunities to explore 3-D printers and other tech gadgetry.
Beyond simply providing a plethora of books as a public service, libraries are apparently become gadget petting zoos. Fascinating!
It is understandable that these new features, along with continuing education and parenthood, are drawing more and more Millennials to their public libraries.
Geiger finishes the brief summary of the Pew data with these three statistics:
There, in that last stat, we see that yes, parents are more likely than non-parents to be using the public library.
What about using the library website versus visiting the library in person? Perhaps Millennials are just visiting their public library websites more than their older friends and family.
Library website usage is increasing very little across all generations and it is still well below the percentage of people visiting their local public library in person.
The data also tells us that just 8% of Millennials used a library app in the last year, and that, in fact, Gen Xers and Boomers both used apps more, as about 9% of each of those generations used library apps.
What about you? Do you go to your local public library? Why? Feel free to comment, and if you’re comfortable, share your generation!