Which Age Group Has the Largest Percentage of Library Visitors? You Might Be Surprised

Yahoo News.Reuters is reporting that in the latest Pew Internet study, the age group with the largest percentage of library users is Generation Y, ages 18 – 30.

From the article:

More than half of Americans visited a library in the past year with many of them drawn in by the computers rather than the books, according to a survey released on Sunday.

Of the 53 percent of U.S. adults who said they visited a library in 2007, the biggest users were young adults aged 18 to 30 in the tech-loving group known as Generation Y, the survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said …

The survey showed 62 percent of Generation Y respondents said they visited a public library in the past year, with a steady decline in usage according to age. Some 57 percent of adults aged 43 to 52 said they visited a library in 2007, followed by 46 percent of adults aged 53 to 61; 42 percent of adults aged 62 to 71; and just 32 percent of adults over 72.

“We were surprised by these findings, particularly in relation to Generation Y,” said Lee Rainie, co-author of the study and director of the Pew project. In 1996 a survey by the Benton Foundation found young adults saw libraries becoming less relevant in the future.

“Scroll forward 10 years and their younger brothers and sisters are now the most avid library users,” Rainie said.

I browsed the Pew site for the report summary.  Unlike the Reuters reporting, it focuses primarily on where people of different age groups go to find answers to specific kinds of information needs.

From the Pew-written summary:

[I]t is young adults who are the most likely to say they will use libraries in the future when they encounter problems: 40% of Gen Y said they would do that, compared with 20% of those above age 30 who say they would go to a library.

Whoa — this is a surprise, isn’t it?   Looks like the rollout of dedicated young adult spaces, staffed by librarians focused on  developing collections, spaces, and programs for young adults, has paid off.

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