Americans between the ages of 16 and 29, especially those at the younger end of the spectrum, have spent their entire lives in the age of the personal computer. From PCs to tablets, the relationship between this group of people and the printed word is different from those who came before. Given how these technological shifts have been uprooting other facets of how people consume media, there’s been plenty of worry about the end of the local public library.
The death of the physical library, however, does not seem to be in the cards, says a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. In fact, says the report, “60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year,” to do research, to borrow books (paper ones!) or to flip through magazines, newspapers or scholarly journals. And most young Americans who read are still reading dead-tree versions of books: of the 83 percent who say they read a book in the past year, three-quarters read at least one print book, while only about one-fifth read an e-book.
The Pew researchers found that although the use of the library decreases as people get older, with 25- to 29-year-olds buying more books than they borrow, the perception of The Library as an important strand in the fabric of society ticks upward—good news for the prolonged existence of the libraries of the future.