Adults under the age of thirty frequent libraries more often than their adult counterparts. A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that 50% of Americans ages 16-29 visited a public library in the previous year, compared to 47% of their adult counterparts. Correlated findings show that millennials also lead in library website use, with 36% reporting use compared to 28% of adults over the age of 30. So if the younger generation has readily available access to information via their smartphones, what are they using the library for?
Millennials value the library as a community hub that’s crucial to the public commons. It turns out they value face-to-face interaction with librarians. 80% of Americans under the age of 30 reported that getting help from a librarian to find the information they need is vital to the community, with 40% having received assistance from a librarian in the past year. Millennials also report that the most important service the library offers is providing a quiet, safe space, followed by access to research resources, with books and media coming in third. Their adult counterparts value books and media as the most important library service, which suggests that rather than using the library as a media repository, the younger generation is using it for the services that set it apart from other cultural institutions. You can find books and media on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but these sites won’t provide you with a quiet place to delve into research databases. Further research from Pew suggests that the way young Americans use libraries fits into the larger context of their social lives and community engagement.
Public libraries are at a crossroads, and the habits of millennials provide valuable insights into the requisites for the library of tomorrow. A 2013 survey shows that millennials would be ‘very likely’ to use apps to locate library materials or access library resources on their phones. Furthermore, 78% of all library users want programs that teach all age groups how to use digital tools like computers, smartphones and apps, and 34% of all library users think that their public library hasn’t done enough to embrace new technologies. These findings suggest that millennials are ready to use mobile technologies within the library as they do in other aspects of their lives, and older patrons are ready to follow suit.
Incorporating a mobile app into the public library’s research database not only makes the library more user friendly, it provides an opportunity for library patrons to develop digital literacy, which is crucial to gainful employment today. Respondents to this year’s Pew Report believe that libraries should be a pathway to economic opportunity by providing skills and proficiencies that can be used in today’s marketplace. When the majority of American jobs lie in the service and tech industries, proficiency with mobile technology is a requisite skill. Adopting the Boopsie mobile app into your library’s IT strategy not only meet the needs of today’s library-loving millennials, it encourages the skillsets necessary for future generations’ success. Contact Team Boopsie for more information and learn how a library branded app can help your library better reach Millennials!