Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations


Woman at library


Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson

When you think of millennials, you might think of social media, avocado toast, and entrepreneurship — but you’re going to want to start adding a love of reading and respect for libraries to that list.

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that millennials don’t just like to read, they love it. Not only that, but they’re out-reading older generations by a significant margin. Per the study, 88 percent of Americans younger than 30 read a book in the past year, compared to 79 percent of survey participants older than 30.

The majority of readers under 30 also believe libraries are important. This isn't just because of the books they have available (more than half of readers under 30 are more likely to buy a book rather than borrow it), but because of the multitude of resources they offer visitors.

Researchers behind the study wrote that libraries become more important to citizens when they use them for guidance. "Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision."

Among Americans over 16 years old who have used (or have had a family member use) a public library, they find job-related library services “very important.” Services that were ranked as essential include help finding and applying for jobs, educational programs for adults, research resources, and having the library as a quiet, safe space.

And who uses these services the most? It’s not just millennials signing up for a local library card. Pew found that the groups most likely to heavily rely on library services are adults with lower incomes, adults with lower levels of education attainment and women.

Could taking advantage of your local library be the key to helping you advance at work? According to the American Library Association, you should head to your library for the below job-related services:

  • Basic digital literacy training, which includes training specific to new technology devices and social media platforms.
  • Programs that support people in applying for jobs, accessing and using online job portals and using online business information resources.
  • Networking events for adults. These events range from book discussion groups to gaming programs.
  • Free public Wi-Fi access, something virtually all libraries (98 percent) offer.

Interested in getting access to the above? Here are your next steps:

  1. Find your local library. If you’re reading this article on a computer or smartphone (and let’s be honest, you are), visit LibWeb to find the closest public library. The site is organized by state, so finding a branch near you should be super easy.
  1. Look into what services and events your local library offers. Most libraries will have an up-to-date calendar front and center of their website. Look to see what interests you, and look at the general information section as well to learn what you should know before you go.
  1. Get a library card. Even if you don’t make visiting the library a regular habit, the card is free! Plan an afternoon trip to your library and bring the materials you need to sign up for a library card. Typically, these include a photo ID or two pieces of identification with name and address (like a utility bill, bank statement or printed check).
  1. Ask a librarian for help. Don’t be afraid — that’s what they’re there for! Librarians can show you around the library as well as walk you through all of the resources they provide. If you tell them what you’re interested in, they can make personalized recommendations to help you find what you need.

Digital resources (like Fairygodboss!) are great, but there is also a lot of great information that is not available on the internet. Your local library is a great place to begin exploring that information.