Good news for American public libraries: Despite growing up in an increasingly digital world filled with iPhones, tablets, texts and tweets, young people ages 16 to 29 use the library more than any other age group, a new study finds.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, this demographic is just as likely to borrow a book—like, those bound and printed on paper—and is more likely than their elders to have read one.
The survey, conducted last fall and released on Tuesday, found that 75 percent of 16-to-29-year-olds—so-called "digital natives"—have read a printed book in the past year, compared with 64 percent of those 29 and up.
More findings from the Pew study:
• 85% of 16-17 year-olds read at least one print book in the past year, making them significantly more likely to have read a book in this format than any other age group.
• Younger patrons are significantly more likely than their elders to use libraries as places to sit and read, study, or watch or listen to media; 60% of younger patrons say they go to the library to do this, compared with 45% of library visitors ages 30 and older.
• 44% of library visitors under age 30 have used a library’s computers, internet, or a public Wi-Fi network, compared with just 27% of those ages 30 and older.
“Younger Americans’ reading habits and library use are still anchored by the printed page,” Kathryn Zickuhr, a Pew research analyst, said in a press release announcing the findings. “Some of this stems from the demands of school or work, yet some likely lies in their current personal preferences. And this group’s priorities and expectations for libraries likewise reflect a mix of traditional and technological services.”
And they're not just interested in "hanging out" there. According to the survey, 67 percent of the 16-to-29-year-old set said they would like libraries to have "a digital media lab where patrons could create and upload new digital content."