November 8, 2023
According to a new report from the American Library Association, Millennials and Gen Z utilize public library resources, both in-person and digitally, at higher rates than older generations. In addition to this, the report showed that Gen Z and Millennials prefer to buy printed books twice as much as any other category of consumption.
Rachel Noorda, one of the study’s authors, said in the ALA’s press release, “Great news: Younger generations of people are reading books, buying books, and visiting libraries.”
Dr. Noorda added, “Not only are Gen Z and Millennials engaging with books, but they are also engaging with other forms of media. They are gamers, readers, writers, and fans who are comfortable with malleability between media categories and forms.”
Even members of the two generational groups who don’t regard themselves as readers are making trips to a local library, as more than half of that contingent has self-reported a trip to the library in the past 12 months. The other author of the study and report, Dr. Inman Berens said, “Libraries are popular among Gen Z and Millennials, even among self-identified non-readers. Gen Z and Millennials want and need the resources public libraries offer. Just as they flit between multiple media formats, they also jump between modes of access: libraries to bookstores to influencer posts to subscriptions, and back again. Libraries are a notable way Gen Z and Millennials discover books.”
However, members of these generational groups who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color report that they sometimes have to endure longer wait times for digital materials. More Black and Latine Gen Z and Millennials use digital collections resources compared to the general population.
According to the ALA’s President Emily Drabinski, the way these generations engage with libraries illuminates that it is important that libraries have a wide range of materials on offer. “These digitally-immersed generations make clear that libraries are about more than books,” Drabinski said. “Programming relevant to teens and their parents – coding clubs, job application help, gaming – draws even non-readers to the library, as does the physical space to connect and collaborate.”
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