Millennials are said to love a lot of things: avocado toast, expensive college degrees, and, now, public libraries. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center names millennials as the generation most likely to use their local library.
Pew defines Millennials as 18-35 year-olds as of the fall of 2016, the time at which the survey was administered. According to the study, 53 percent of the age group had used a public library or bookmobile within the previous year. The average across all adults 18 and older was 46 percent. After Millennials, the most voracious library users were those born during Generation X (ages 36-51) at 45 percent.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Millennials also ranked first (41%) in visiting library websites. This figure is substantially higher than the overall adult average of 31 percent. Only 8 percent of Millennials, however, noted having used a library’s app in the previous twelve months, slightly behind Gen X and Baby Boomers (both 9%).
Pew offers a few suggestions as to why Millennials are such frequent library patrons. Increased technology offerings, as well as meeting spaces and programs for young children, were cited based on the results of earlier studies. Today, libraries not only offer technology and makerspaces within their physical buildings, but many lend e-content as well. New parents likely seek family programming to socialize their children and meet their peers.
Perhaps economics also plays a role; by definition, younger Millennials are in the early stages of their careers or even still in school. Older Millennials are likely just starting families of their own. Either way, many individuals of this generation lack significant expendable income for entertainment.
Other demographics gleaned from Pew’s research are that women are more likely than men to use public libraries (54% compared to 39%), as are parents of children under 18 compared to non-parents (54% vs. 43%). These findings are consistent with previous Pew reports.
Studies such as this one are essential in developing library programs and services. It is also heartening to see that younger generations are champions of libraries in a time during which our relevancy is often brought into question. How do you plan to meet Millennials’ needs in your library? Have you seen an increase in this age group coming through your doors? Let us know in the comments!
 Geiger, Abigail. “Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries.” Pew Research Center. June 21, 2017. Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/21/millennials-are-the-most-likely-generation-of-americans-to-use-public-libraries/.