Libraries often get a bad rap when it comes to public opinion of their place and purpose in a technology-saturated society. But new data from Pew Research indicates that libraries are still relevant and their usage still ranks high across the population — especially among millennials.
Despite assumptions that millennials are doing everything online and on smart devices, large numbers of those aged 16 to 29 are interested in visiting the local library. Nearly 100 percent of this group use the Internet and 77 percent of them have a smartphone. However, 62 percent of survey respondents under 30 agree that “a lot of useful, important information is not available on the Internet.”
Younger users see the value in Internet access more than those over 30-years-old. Ninety-eight percent of those under 30 agreed that the Internet made it easier to find information in the past. Younger survey respondents also agreed with the statement that a lack of Internet access is a disadvantage — three percentage points more than those over 30.
When it comes to technology and Internet access at libraries, the majority of those under 30 (51 percent) disagree with the statement “Public libraries have not done a good job keeping up with new technologies.” Older respondents also disagreed with the statement at a rate of 56 percent.
When it comes to how important public libraries are, many respondents agreed that providing free resources was important and they agreed that losing a library would be a blow to the community and to themselves and their families.
Even with increases in e-reader usage, millennials are keeping libraries alive, and libraries are keeping good pace with changes to technology. Part of the steady pace of use may be that libraries provide greater resources, but it could also be because authors realize the power of social media in building a following.