Digital natives and libraries: new Pew research

Pew Internet logoDigital natives and libraries: a new Pew Internet and American Life survey offers updated information on this relationship.  The results are both useful and fascinating, as one expects from Pew.

In some exciting ways the report upends cliches about millenials, and not to the credit of their putatively wiser elders:

  • Digital natives are more likely to have read a print book than their elders (“three-quarters (75%) of younger Americans say they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 64% of adults ages 30 and older”).  That will shock some (older) folks.
  • Those 16-29-year-olds make more use of library space than do the 30-on-ups: “60% of younger patrons say they go to the library to study, sit and read, or watch or listen to media, significantly more than the 45% of older patrons who do this.”  And “[s]ome 38% of Americans ages 16-29 have used computers and the internet at libraries in the past year, compared with 22% of those ages 30 and older.”

In at least two areas there are no generational differences:

  • “Younger Americans under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library, and younger patrons borrow print books, browse the shelves, or use research databases at similar rates to older patrons”
  • “80% of Americans under age 30 say that librarians are a “very important” resource for libraries to have (along with 81% of adults ages 30 and older)”

Here’s a fascinating snapshot of what this younger cohort wants from libraries in the future:

Library services demanded

In other useful findings:

  • People of all ages generally aren’t using mobile devices to hit libraries’ digital resources: “Almost one in five (18%) Americans ages 16-29 have used a mobile device to visit a public library’s website or access library resources in the past 12 months, compared with 12% of those ages 30 and older. “
  • Interesting point about spatial perceptions: “most younger Americans say that libraries should have completely separate locations or spaces for different services, such as children’s services, computer labs, reading spaces, and meeting rooms: 57% agree that libraries should “definitely” do this.”

This is rich, vital stuff for library planners and other educators.

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10 Responses to Digital natives and libraries: new Pew research

  1. From a 60+ year old’s view:
    I would use the public library’s website for more ebooks if it were not so “clunky.” Maybe it will get better by and by.
    Disagree that most library services be online…our wee ones need to be able to visit the library, touch the books, read and enjoy illustrations as they hold them in their hands…to further instill their love for reading! Later, ebooks could become an integral part of their reading…if they wish. Also, as much as I like technology, there is no way we could technologically replace and feel and smell of the library…our warehouse of adventure, knowledge and intrigue.

  2. Pingback: Digital natives and libraries: new Pew research | middleagecrisisfordummies

  3. amindthought says:

    Thoughts on the article from a 60+: I posted earlier…or rather tried to post. That said, as much as I enjoy technology and ebooks, I feel it would be sad not to have a physical library for the wee ones to experience the awe of books upon books…the joy of holding a book filled with beautiful illustrations in their hand…listening to story time, etc.

    I also would use the online website of our parish library more if it were not so clunky…hopefully this will improve as time goes on.

  4. Thank you for the reblogs broadyesl and adelwins.

    I share your love of the bookish space, amindthought. Note that the younger folks also want spaces; that’s an opportunity for bookshelves.

  5. One factor immediately jumped on by some educator colleagues: Most young folks in school (any level) are assigned books to read and most are probably doing so (even if they complain along the way, and we stereotype them as shirking).

  6. How often do they check out library books for those assignments, geostationary? Some schools supply required readings, either from classrooms or school libraries.

  7. mikecaulfield says:

    My issue on these sorts of things is we never know if they are getting at cohort differences or age differences. What I’d love to know is how many people that are currently 40 read at least one book a year when they were 20, and how that compares to current 20 year olds.

    This info still is useful, just not as much as I’d like I guess.

  8. Interesting idea, thinking of different cohorts or subgroups of readings, Mike. Has anyone broken these out before?

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