Finally, some good news about readers. It turns out there actually are some out there. Really.
In fact, a new survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project claims that nearly 80% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 have read a book in the last year. I gather that’s a book they didn’t have to read, since many in that age group would be students in one institution or another who presumably have assigned reading responsibilities. And not only that, but about 60% say they have used their local public library, although I’m not sure whether they’ e used it for books or computers as opposed to a place to meet their friends.
Here’s how some of the survey results break down among various age groups, according to Publishers Weekly: Among high schoolers, just over half of the respondents say their library is either “very important” or “somewhat important” compared to roughly two-thirds of older Americans. They are also more likely to be interested in e-books than older folks.
The college-age adults (18 to 24) had the highest overall reading rate, and overall, this group is more likely than high schoolers to purchase their books. Among adults 24 to 29, the percentage having read a book in the last year is lower. Probably not surprising since at this age they are perhaps young married or first job employed with less opportunities for books. About 75% of them, however, said that public libraries are very important to them and their families.
Interestingly, among e-book readers, those under age 30 are more likely to read on a cell phone (41%) or computer (55%) than an e-book reader or tablet. Those numbers get reversed among older respondents.
The survey is the latest in a series of efforts by Pew to figure out library and reading behavior in the digital age. It involved replies from 2,986 people ages 16 and older last November and December.
Interesting stuff. Those of us who work in libraries can find some things to cheer in the results. And librarians know from person contacts over recent years that usage is up almost everywhere: the number of people borrowing books, using computers, asking questions, seeking help of one sort or another. These are difficult times, and the services offered by free libraries have proven more popular and more necessary than ever.
That seems obvious, of course. What seems a bit less obvious is why the budgets for libraries keep getting trimmed. And trimmed. Ah well, save that survey result for another day ….