Survey results released by Pew this week show that millennials are substantially more likely than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers to use public libraries.
Fifty-three percent of millenials, defined as those between 18 and 35 when the survey was conducted last fall, told Pew that they had visited a public library in the prior 12 months. That compares with only 45% of Gen Xers (aged 36-51), 43% of Baby Boomers (52-70) and 36% of what Pew calls the Silent Generation, aged 71-88.
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Pew is careful to point out that its survey specifically asked about public library usage, hopefully filtering out time college students spent at university libraries.
Previous Pew surveys have shown that millenials are book lovers. But another possible explanation for their greater use of public libraries is that they have more need for the free or inexpensive services, from DVD checkouts to internet terminals, offered there. That’s not only because they’re earlier in their careers, but because millennials are far worse off financially than their parents were at the same age.