Millennial​s: Libraries Brightest Hope?

By Claire Daniel Comment

1101130520_600Millennials tend to get a bum rap. Remember that Time magazine cover that painted them as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents?”

They’re the ME ME ME generation, the cover reads, but then boldly proclaims “why they’ll save us all.”

Yes the cover girl may have been pictured with an iPhone in her hand, but chances are she had a library card in her back pocket.

Could libraries be among the first of the Millennials heroic conquests?

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project the answer is a hopeful perhaps.

Notable findings include:

  • 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 ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year, compared to 47% of those 30 and older
  • Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older

What’s more, the popularity of “brick and mortar” libraries—and the gap between library visitors and library website users—may come courtesy of another surprising finding in the report:

  • 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.

The above statistic becomes particularly provocative when you consider the following taken from the report:

As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many say they are unfamiliar with all the services it may offer: 36% of Millennials say they know little or nothing about the local library’s services, compared with 29% of those 30 and older. At the same time, most younger Americans feel they can easily navigate their local library, and the vast majority would describe libraries as warm, welcoming places, though younger patrons are less likely to rate libraries’ physical conditions highly.

As put forth to me by a press representative, it begs the question—how can libraries better serve their sought-after content to Millennials, described in the report as the “ 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.”? How can they take vast stores of hard-copy content —books, magazines, newspapers—and make that “useful, important information” available online?

What say you, GalleyCats?