Despite the instant access to thousands of books and newspapers that e-readers and tablets grant to their often young owners, young people have not stopped frequenting libraries, a new study has found.
The digital book revolution that has overrun independent bookstores across the country seems to have left the libraries alone. Contrary to popular lamentations from the older generation, young Americans do not go to Google for everything. Even with all the internet’s knowledge at their fingertips, 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 frequent the library to conduct research, borrow books — print, as well as audio and digital — and they might even read a newspaper or magazine.
Granted, they do it at a lower rate than their parents. Where 62 percent of older Americans read the newspaper regularly, that number is nearer to 40 percent for people under 30. The numbers are closer for magazines: 50 percent for the older generation versus 42 percent for the under-30 population. Of the people under 30 who read magazines and newspapers regularly, 71 percent read them on a hand-held device — though, interestingly, not on tablets or e-readers. By far the most popular devices for reading were computers and phones.
The fact that libraries still attract 60 percent of young people is significant commentary on the effects that the digital age is — and, perhaps more significantly, is not — having on the reading habits of young people. The medium on which people read is changing, but they are still reading, and they do not seem likely to stop in the near future.
At least for now, there is no better place to go to find a good novel or a reputable source for a research paper than a library. The ability to browse makes the library the best thing that has ever happened to bored teenagers and stressed college students alike. They can judge a book by its cover, by the summary on its back, by the section that it’s in. Without having any clear idea what they are looking for, a library allows them to find exactly what they need.