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New York Public Library | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

New York Public Library

I have written before about the reality behind the myth that youngsters no longer read. Now, a Pew Research Center survey has the surprising answer to the question, which adult generation is more likely to have visited a public library in the past year: it’s the Millennials. Yes, the same Millennials widely accused of not reading!

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation (it is worth noting that the question wording specifically focused on the use of public libraries, not on-campus academic libraries),

All told, 46% of adults ages 18 and older say they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months – a share that is broadly consistent with Pew Research Center findings in recent years.

Members of the youngest adult generation are also more likely than their elders to have used library websites. About 41% of Millennials used a library website in the past 12 months, compared with 24% of Boomers. In all, 31% of adults used a library website in the past 12 months, which is similar to the percentage that reported using library websites in late 2015.

Other Trends

Beyond demonstrating generational differences in library use and ending the myth that libraries aren’t relevant in the Internet age, the survey showed other demographic differences in library use. Specifically:

  • Women are more likely than men to have visited a public library or bookmobile in the past 12 months (54% vs. 39%).
  • Women are similarly more likely to use library websites (37% vs. 24%).
  • College graduates are more likely than those whose education ended with a high school diploma to use libraries or bookmobiles in the past 12 months (56% vs. 40%). A similar gap applies to use of library websites.
  • Parents of minor children are more likely than non-parents to have used a library in the past 12 months (54% vs. 43%).

So, let’s hear it for those kids, women, grads, and parents!