A recent ALA Survey shows that people under the age of 40 Prefer Print Books. 

According to “Gen Z and Millennials: How They Use Public Libraries and Identify Through Media Use, a survey and report published by the American Library Association, people 40 and younger are using public libraries, often at higher rates compared with older generations even when they don’t define themselves as readers. Overall, Gen Z and millennials (which this report defines as people aged 13–40) continue to express a preference for print over digital versions of books. Studies show that this demographic prefers the tactile experience of turning the pages, feeling the weight of the book, and even the smell of paper. These younger generations are also more aware than others that retention and comprehension is increased with printed material and prefer distraction-free reading experiences.

Browsing public libraries is Gen Z’s #3 preferred place to discover books. Libraries are the #5 preferred place for millennials to discover books. Millennials are more likely to use digital library collections than Gen Z, but still favor print material. Print is the preferred format for Gen Z.


The desire and demand for convenience is especially pronounced in these younger generations. This is why the library coming out into the community with convenience is more important than ever.

The desire and demand for convenience is also especially pronounced in these younger generations. All reasons why the library coming out into the community with convenience is more important than ever. 

In this study, Gen Z and millennials who reportedly had not been to the physical library in a twelve-month period read less than the general population across all formats. 14% stated that “There’s no library close to where I live.” Many millennials and Gen Zers live in urban areas where time-consuming commutes are common. Convenience becomes crucial for streamlining daily routines and making the most of limited time. With current trends in technology, increasingly busy schedules, and the need for instant gratification, the expectation for convenience and immediate access is the norm rather than the exception. 

In an effort to nourish Millenials’ and Gen Zers’ use of the library, convenient physical space and print materials will continue to be required because they like print materials.

New to Osterville Village Library: 24/7 Access to books, DVDs, children's literature, & young adult books

From the OVL Newsletter: We are thrilled to announce the launch of our pioneering AutoLend Library, a first-of-its-kind on Cape Cod, designed to revolutionize your reading and viewing experience. Imagine having the magic of a library at your fingertips, around the clock, with 24/7 access to an extensive collection of books, DVDs, children's literature, and young adult novels. "This innovative service is set to redefine convenience, making it easier than ever for our patrons to immerse themselves in the world of knowledge and entertainment, without the constraints of traditional library hours. Welcome to the future of lending, where your next adventure awaits, anytime you desire."
Cyndy Cotton
Executive Director, Osterville Village Library, MA

Additional ways libraries can better engage and serve these younger generations

  1. Flexibility in Services:
    Curbside Pickup: Offer contactless services, including curbside pickup for library materials.
    Extended Hours: Consider flexible hours to accommodate varied schedules.
  2. Community Collaboration:
    Partnerships: Collaborate with local organizations, schools, and businesses to provide outreach services at remote locations where people live, work, shop, and play.
  3. Online Platforms and Social Media:
    Active Social Media Presence: Engage with users on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. 55% of younger generations discover new reading materials on their phones or on social media feeds.
  4. Flexible Spaces:
    Collaborative Spaces: Create areas for group study, collaborative work, and interactive learning both inside and outside of the main library and within the community. 
    Quiet Zones: Maintain spaces for quiet individual study and reflection.

Gen Z and Millennials: How They Use Public Libraries and Identify Through Media Use

by Kathi Inman Berens, interim director, Book Publishing, and associate professor, Publishing and Digital Humanities; and Rachel Noorda, director of publishing and assistant professor of English, both at Portland State University.

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