Released: July 9, 2013

Study finds young people still go to libraries despite more online resources

Vasant Iyer walked out of the Thousand Oaks library this month balancing a pile of books in his arms.

The 17-year-old, a recent Westlake High School graduate, likes to read print books. He goes to the library rather than downloading them online. And he’s not alone.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center looked at younger Americans’ library habits and showed 16- to 29-year-olds are just as likely as older adults to go to the library.

They use the technology, but they also browse the shelves and borrow print books as much as older people do, the study shows. Three-fourths have read at least one print book in the past year — a higher percentage than those over 30.

“I think it’s really interesting that younger Americans, those under age 30, are strong supporters of traditional library services, though they are also big technology users,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a research analyst with the Pew Research Center, which is working on a multiyear study of public libraries.

The latest results didn’t come as a big surprise to local library officials, who say they serve a variety of age groups.

“We’re not just a book warehouse that a lot of people may have thought of years ago,” said Heather Cousin, library director at the Simi Valley Library. “We really are community centers.”

Simi Valley’s library reopened last week after undergoing renovations that included giving teens their own space and adding study areas where students can work in small groups, Cousin said. That’s a growing need as more teachers have shifted to group projects.

In the study, most younger Americans said it is “very important” for libraries to have librarians and books for borrowing.

Zickuhr found it particularly interesting that younger patrons are more likely than older ones to use the library as a physical space — a place to go where they can sit and study, read or use computers and the Internet. […]


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