From the desk of Katie Campbell…
A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project states that 83% of Young Americans (aged 16-29) have read a book in the last year. This new report, entitled Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits, compares this figure to the 78% of all Americans over the age of 16 who have read a book in the last year. Additional findings include the fact that college aged adults were the most likely to have read a book in the last year and that 60% of Americans under 30 have used a public library in the last year. According to Infodocket.com, Kathryn Zickuhr, a Pew Research Analysis, confirmed that the participants in the survey were asked specifically about public library use; the use reported in this survey is in addition to any use of a school or academic library. 72% of high schoolers report that they have used a public library in the last year. Despite this fact, the high school age group is the least likely to say that the library is important to them (54%).
While 77% of high schoolers have read a book in the last year, only 12% have read an ebook and 10% have read an audiobook. Younger Americans were also more likely to read an ebook on their cell phone rather than an ereader (like a Kindle) or a tablet (like an iPad). Interestingly, only 2% of younger Americans have borrowed an ebook from their library in the past year, but 58% of those who don’t borrow ebooks say that they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded ereaders from their library. The under 30 age group was also more likely to read books outside of school or work assignments; 75% read for pleasure or to keep up with current events. High schoolers are also the most likely age group to ask for book recommendations from a librarian.
The report divides the 16-29 age group into three different categories high schoolers (ages 16-17), college aged-adults (ages 18-24) and early career adults (ages 25-29). This allows the report to make some distinctions between the very different life stages these three groups occupy. The report also published several long quotes from all three age groups that really exemplify the views of younger Americans on libraries and books. This newest report adds to the information previously published by Pew in their series of reports on libraries and reading including their June 2012 report (Libraries, Patrons and eBooks) and their April 2012 report (The Rise of eReading).
Katie Campbell is a Library Consultant at the State Library of Ohio