How young Americans use libraries (report)

Latest Pew Internet report is a very comprehensive study about habits of young Americans when it comes to books, reading and libraries.

We shared already one outcome of the report, showing a very promising trend in how teenagers aged 16-17 approach ebooks. The main part of the report is, however, devoted to recognize library habits and preferences of the younger generation of Americans.

Currently, 63% of all Americans ages 16 and older claim they have a library card. Considering in-person visits, 84% of Americans aged 16+ have ever visited a library or bookmobile. Younger people, 16-29, were slightly more eager to visit libraries than the average (86%).

It gets really interesting if we follow the data on visiting library websites – “the younger the better” doesn’t seem to be the rule:

Pew Internet report - young Americans - library usage - chart 1

Almost half of Americans ages 16-49 have ever visited a library website, but the youngest ones were not the leading group. Only 23% of teenagers claimed they visited a library website in the past year. It’s one-third less than Americans aged 30-49 (32%).

The youngest Americans are also not the heaviest users of mobile phones when it comes to visiting library websites and accessing libraries’ resources. 18% of people aged 18-49 have used a mobile phone for that purpose, compared to 16% of 16-17 year olds.

Pew Internet report - young Americans - library usage - chart 2

The report lists also changes in library use:

  • 26% of recent library users say their own use of local libraries has increased in the past five years, including 22% of those under age 30,
  • 22% say their use has decreased. This includes 30% of those under age 30, making them significantly more likely to say this than adults ages 30 and older (19%),
  • 52% say their use has stayed the same during that time period, including 47% of those under age 30.

Younger Americans’ Library Habits and Expectations report is based on a Library Services Survey conducted between October 15 and November 10, 2012. You can download the full text in pdf format from here.