January 20, 2022

New Pew Internet & American Life Project Report Looks at Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits

A new report from Pew Internet focusing on the reading habits and public library habits of younger Americans’ (ages 16-29) is now available online.

It’s another report in a looking at reading habits, ereading, and libraries that Pew has published.

On June 22nd, Pew released an 80 page report titled, Libraries, patrons, and e-books. At that time infoDOCKET offered an extended post with commentary and analysis. You can find our post with post and commentary here. Of course, it also contains links to the full text report.

This time we’re once again going to post commentary and analysis but we will be publishing it in the next 7-10 days. I’ll be once again be joined by Matt Weaver, a librarian at the Westlake Porter Public Library in Ohio.

Until then, Meredith Schwartz has posted an article on Library Journal/School Library Journal.

For now, here on infoDOCKET, a direct link to the full text report along with some topline findings.

Full Text Report

Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits

A PDF version of the report is also available.

Key Findings

83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75% read a print book, 19% read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook.

Among Americans who read e-books, those under age 30 are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone (41%) or computer (55%) than on an e-book reader such as a Kindle (23%) or tablet (16%).

Overall, 47% of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers. E-content readers under age 30 are more likely than older e-content readers to say that they are reading more these days due to the availability of e-content (40% vs. 28%).

About half (48%) of readers under age 30 said they had purchased their most recently read book. Another 24% said they had borrowed it from a friend or family member, and 14% said they borrowed it from a library.

The report also examines younger Americans’ library usage, and what e-book- related services they might be interested at their local libraries:

60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year. Some 46% used the library for research, 38% borrowed books (print books, audiobooks, or e-books), and 23% borrowed newspapers, magazines, or journals.

High-school-aged readers were more likely to have borrowed the last book they read from the library (37%) than they are to have bought it (26%). This pattern soon reverses for older age groups—almost six in ten readers in their late twenties said they had purchased their last book.

Many young e-book readers do not know they can borrow an e-book from a library. Among those ages 16-29 who have not borrowed an e-book from the library, 52% said they were unaware they could do so.

A majority of non-borrowers under age 30 expressed an interest in doing so on pre-loaded e-readers. Some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.