A Younger Generation Is Embracing Public Libraries

Good news at a challenging time for libraries

Seattle Library
Encouraging news about the staying power of libraries.
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At a time when some local governments are trimming library hours and some state governments are considering cutting library funding altogether, the future of public libraries can be difficult to predict. While there may be some grounds for pessimism, there are also a number of reasons to feel optimistic — including the generational shift described in a recent Alaina Demopoulos article in The Guardian.

Demopoulos describes a situation in which Generation Z is embracing libraries, for a host of reasons. The article details a kind of convergence for media-savvy Gen Z types, who enjoy both being in a shared space dedicated to knowledge and the aesthetics that a great reading room can have.

The article also cites a recent American Library Association study that suggests that even non-readers under the age of 40 are fond of libraries. The study notes that “23% of Gen Z and millennials had visited a physical library in a twelve-month period AND did not identify as readers.” Intriguingly, the study also shows that Gen Z is, on average, reading and buying more books per month than their millennial counterparts.

At The Guardian, Demopoulos files this generational interest in libraries with a larger enjoyment of reading in public. This includes the founder of the series Reading Rhythms — in which attendees read while a selection of music plays in the background — who is also an avid fan of libraries.

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That’s not the only recurring gathering of its kind. There’s also Silent Book Club, which has chapters around the world, and whose itinerary consists of precisely what you’d expect: a group of people sitting in a room together, reading in silence. Silent Book Club has been around for years now, but it’s not shocking to see events like this, whether dedicated reading times in a bar or reading with others in a library, as a way of finding a new “third place” post-pandemic. If it reminds people of the importance of libraries, so much the better.

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