Generation Y biggest user of libraries: survey

Generation Y biggest user of libraries: survey

by Julie Vorman; Editing by Bill Trott / Reuters
Dec. 30, 2007

More than half of Americans visited
a library in the past year with many of them drawn in by the
computers rather than the books, according to a survey released
on Sunday.

Of the 53 percent of U.S. adults who said they visited a
library in 2007, the biggest users were young adults aged 18 to
30 in the tech-loving group known as Generation Y, the survey
by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said.

"These findings turn our thinking about libraries upside
down," said Leigh Estabrook, a professor emerita at the
University of Illinois and co-author of a report on the survey
results.

 

"Internet use seems to create an information hunger and it
is information-savvy young people who are most likely to visit
libraries," she said.

Internet users were more than twice as likely to patronize
libraries as non-Internet users, according to the survey.

More than two-thirds of library visitors in all age groups
said they used computers while at the library.

Sixty-five percent of them looked up information on the
Internet while 62 percent used computers to check into the
library’s resources.

Public libraries now offer virtual homework help, special
gaming software programs, and some librarians even have created
characters in the Second Life virtual world, Estabrook said.
Libraries also remain a community hub or gathering place in
many neighborhoods, she said.

The survey showed 62 percent of Generation Y respondents
said they visited a public library in the past year, with a
steady decline in usage according to age. Some 57 percent of
adults aged 43 to 52 said they visited a library in 2007,
followed by 46 percent of adults aged 53 to 61; 42 percent of
adults aged 62 to 71; and just 32 percent of adults over 72.

"We were surprised by these findings, particularly in
relation to Generation Y," said Lee Rainie, co-author of the
study and director of the Pew project. In 1996 a survey by the
Benton Foundation found young adults saw libraries becoming
less relevant in the future.

"Scroll forward 10 years and their younger brothers and
sisters are now the most avid library users," Rainie said.

The survey of 2,796 Americans was conducted by telephone
from late June through early September and has a margin of
error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. It was funded by
the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, an agency
that offers federal support for U.S. libraries and museums.

(Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Bill Trott)

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