Released: October 23, 2012
Young People Frequent Libraries, Study Finds
In a digital world where many younger readers feel increasingly comfortable downloading novels and textbooks onto their computers or e-readers, a majority of Americans from the ages of 16 through 29 still frequent libraries.
According to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans surveyed in this age group said they still visited the library. They use libraries to conduct research, borrow print, audio and electronic books and, in some cases, read magazines and newspapers.
That finding would seem to clash with the popular notion that young readers have turned away from libraries and print books as the source of their reading material, said Kathryn Zickuhr, research analyst with the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “A lot of people think that young people aren’t reading, they aren’t using libraries,” Ms. Zickuhr said. “That they’re just turning to Google for everything.”
The Pew Center has been researching the use of the nation’s libraries for more than two years, with financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The latest study involved a telephone survey, conducted last November and December, of nearly 3,000 people 16 and older talking about their reading habits, and data from two telephone polls conducted in January. While young people clearly do not read newspapers as regularly as their parents and grandparents did, their consumption of magazines is more closely aligned. The study showed that 40 percent of surveyed Americans under 30 regularly read newspapers, compared with 62 percent of older Americans. Seventy-one percent of those under 30 who do read news regularly said they viewed all of their news through hand-held devices.
While 42 percent of Americans under 30 read magazines, 50 percent of older adults read magazines.
But in troubling news for tablet makers, the study also found that the subjects under 30 who read electronically were more likely to read books on a cellphone or a computer.
In fact, the study found that 41 percent of readers under 30 view books using a cellphone and 55 percent read from a computer. Only 23 percent of Americans under 30 used an e-reader and 16 percent used a tablet.
“That’s definitely something we will keep an eye on,” Ms. Zickuhr said.
A version of this article appeared in print on 10/23/2012, on page B8 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Young Americans Frequent Libraries, Pew Study Finds.