Millennials the Biggest Users of Public Libraries, New Study Finds

The Pew Research Center report found that 53% of millennials ages 18 to 35 last fall said they have used a public library or bookmobile within the last year. The data doesn't include on-campus libraries. (Credit: CNN)

A public library may conjure up an image of a place where a septuagenarian is scouring for books on tape or a harried mom is trying to calm her kids by reading “Where The Wild Things Are.”

But the biggest users of public libraries today are millennials.

Yes, those selfie-snapping, blog-posting millennials are the generation most likely to visit a public library, according to a report out this week.

The Pew Research Center report found that 53% of millennials ages 18 to 35 last fall said they have used a public library or bookmobile within the last year. The data doesn’t include on-campus libraries.

Only 45% of Generation Xers (ages 36-51), 43% of baby boomers (52-70) and 36% of the silent generation (71-88) said they visited a library during the same time period.

Here’s why

Technology may explain the survey’s findings.

Many libraries have modernized facilities with high-speed Internet and 3D printers.

That’s made them a draw for millennials.

“These kids are familiar with the fact that the library offers them the bandwidth and wireless access they might not get anywhere else,” Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, told CNN.

Libraries also allow users to check out digital devices such as iPads.

“Teens see libraries different than their parents or caregivers used to see them,” she said.

Other findings

Women are more likely to visit a library and use a library website, the survey found.

Fifty-four percent of women say they visited in the last year, compared to just 39% of men.

A person’s schooling can affect how often someone finds themselves in a library.

College graduates are more likely than high school graduates to use libraries in the past year — 56% to 40%.