It was reassuring to have everyday reality confirmed by a survey that shows teenagers and young adults “still use” libraries, read books and think librarians are important. (Young people who love their electronics never declared books, magazines, and yes, newspapers, obsolete. Pseudo forward-thinking, ahead-of-the-curve business types did that.) We shouldn’t be surprised by this news, but it’s reported as such — a curious, unexpected finding. It’s time to get over it. People of all ages love books and libraries. (Even if they use e-readers. Or books on CD.) Check out a few tidbits, reported by the Los Angeles Times, from the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet &American Life Project.
•People in their 20s and older teens are just as likely as older Americans to have visited a public library in the last year — and about as likely to have taken out books or browsed once they got there.
Nearly two out of three said they had a library card.
Young people are nearly twice as likely as adults to have used computers and the Internet there, and much more likely to have hung out in libraries to study or read. They were less likely to have gotten help from a librarian.
Eighty percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 said librarians were “very important,” the survey found. Three out of four said it was crucial that libraries offer books to borrow — just as many said the same about free access to computers and the Internet.
•Eighty-two percent of people ages 16 to 29 said they had read at least one book in any format in the last year — bigger percentages than among older adults.
People in their 30s and 40s were most likely to have read an e-book. Nearly a third said they had read one in the last year, more than younger people and far more than among those 50 or older.
“Younger Americans don’t seem to be radically different from older adults in their conception of the library,” Kathryn Zickuhr, a Pew research analyst, told the Los Angeles Times. “They think libraries should have books. They think libraries should have librarians. They think libraries should have quiet spaces.”
Despite the perception perpetuated on TV and in ads, not all Americans have the tools — computers and books — at home to complete their homework, or apply for a job, or just read. It’s difficult to think of anything that is more democracy-in-action than our public libraries. Access to information for all. It says so much that young people value libraries as much as older people do. Read on, everyone.