May 19, 2022

Pew Internet Releases Findings on the Library Habits and Expectations of Younger Americans’

From Pew Internet:

Younger Americans—those ages 16-29—exhibit a fascinating mix of habits and preferences when it comes to reading, libraries, and technology. Almost all Americans under age 30 are online, and they are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computer and internet connections; however, they are also still closely bound to print, as three-quarters (75%) of younger Americans say they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 64% of adults ages 30 and older.

Similarly, younger Americans’ library usage reflect a blend of traditional and technological services. Americans under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library, and once there they borrow print books and browse the shelves at similar rates. Large majorities of those under age 30 say it is “very important” for libraries to have librarians as well as books for borrowing, and relatively few think that libraries should automate most library services, move most services online, or move print books out of public areas.

At the same time, younger library visitors are more likely than older patrons to access the library’s internet or computers or use the library’s research resources, such as databases. And younger patrons are also significantly more likely than those ages 30 and older to use the library as a study or “hang out” space: 60% of younger patrons say they go to the library to study, sit and read, or watch or listen to media, significantly more than the 45% of older patrons who do this. And a majority of Americans of all age groups say libraries should have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, and relaxing

A snapshot of younger Americans’ reading and library habits

Reading habits

Some 82% of Americans ages 16-29 read at least one book in any format in the previous 12 months. Over the past year, these younger readers consumed a mean (average) of 13 books—a median (midpoint) of 6 books.

  • 75% of Americans ages 16-29 read at least one book in print in the past year
  • 25% read at least one e-book
  • 14% listened to at least one audiobook

Library use

As of November 2012:

  • 65% of Americans ages 16-29 have a library card.
  • 86% of those under age 30 have visited a library or bookmobile in person; over half (58%) have done so in the past year.
  • 48% of those under age 30 have visited a library website; 28% have done so in the past year.
  • 18% of those under age 30 have visited library websites or otherwise accessed library services by mobile device in the past 12 months.

Among recent library users under age thirty (that is, Americans ages 16-29 who have visited a library, library website, or library’s mobile services in the past year), 22% say their overall library use has increased over the past five years. Another 47% said it had stayed about the same, and 30% said it had decreased over that time period.


 Read the Complete Report
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.