(1 Nov 2023) Gen Z and Millennials are using public libraries, both in person and digitally, at higher rates compared to older generations, according to a new report released today by the American Library Association (ALA). Gen Z and Millennials: How They Use Public Libraries and Identify Through Media Use draws on a nationally representative survey to reveal the attitudes and behaviors young Americans have regarding library use and media consumption.
Authored by Kathi Inman Berens, Ph.D., and Rachel Noorda, Ph.D., both of Portland State University, the report and survey data show that 54 percent of Gen Z and Millennials visited a physical library within the previous 12 months. Of the 2075 Gen Z and Millennials surveyed in 2022, more than half who self-reported visiting a physical library said they also borrow from a library’s digital collection. The data also revealed younger Americans’ distinct preference for physical versions of books: survey respondents read and bought on average twice as many print books per month as any other category.
Through analysis of survey and demographic data, the authors uncovered additional key findings, including:
- Younger library users view the library as a place to “sample” materials, supplementing and informing their purchases and paid subscriptions of books, information, and media.
- Members of the survey cohorts who also identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color are more impacted by wait times for digital materials; more Black and Latinx Gen Z and Millennials report using digital collections than the general survey population.
- Seventy-five percent of Gen Z and Millennial physical library patrons believe a library wait of one week or less is “long.”
The Gen Z and Millennials public libraries and media use report builds on earlier data collected by the authors in Immersive Media 2020, published by the Panorama Project, which sought to understand how today’s readers and consumers view books in relation to other forms of interactive media. Both reports are intended to serve library professionals, educators, publishers, and local governments in assessing and planning outreach and services geared toward various generational cohorts.
The press release is here.