Innovation & Automation for the Modern Library

Top Ways for Libraries to Better Reach GenZers and Millennials


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.

Want to increase accessibility
& enhance convenience
in your community?

What Do Self-Service Library Kiosks Have To Offer?

Apparently Pie...

When they are installed outside of a local Pizza joint. The Altadena Library District put a book vending machine in front of their local Prime Pizza in an effort to expand their outreach and increase access to physical materials. Thanks to the addition of two new AutoLend Library vending machines, one located at Prime Pizza in Altadena and one temporarily staged just outside the Main Library (until the library can find a permanent home for it on the westside of Altadena) they can better serve their patrons. 

The vending machines serve as community outreach kiosks that allow library cardholders to browse, hold, pick up, and return materials anytime. Even those who sign up for a digital library card can immediately check out an item. 

“It’s an innovative use of traditional technology that allows us to be out in the community 24/7,” says District Director Nikki Winslow. “That frees up staff members to support other outreach opportunities and provide valuable library programs.”

Read more about this from the Altadena Library District…

Seriously, What Does A Library Vending Machine At A Pizza Joint Have To Offer?

Library self-service vending machines out in the community offer many benefits to the community by enhancing accessibility and convenience.  

  1. Extended Access Hours:

    • Self-service vending machines allow users to access library materials beyond traditional library hours. This is particularly useful for those who work or have commitments during regular library operating hours.
  2. Convenience:

    • Users can conveniently borrow or return books and other materials without having to wait in line or adhere to the library’s schedule. This convenience is especially valuable for individuals with busy lifestyles.
  3. Community Outreach:

    • Placing vending machines in strategic locations within the community, such as community centers or shopping malls, increases the library’s outreach. It brings library services closer to where people live, work, shop, and play as well as creating remote convenient gathering places and safe spaces.

Additional Benefits to Library Vending Machines:

  1. Reduced Staffing Costs:

    • Self-service machines can help reduce the need for extensive staffing during off-peak hours, allowing libraries to allocate resources more efficiently. Staff can then focus on providing specialized services and assistance.
  2. Quick and Easy Transactions:

    • With user-friendly interfaces, these machines facilitate quick and easy transactions for borrowing and returning materials in real time. This simplicity encourages more people to use library services.
  3. Remote Areas and Underserved Communities:

    • In areas where establishing a full-fledged library may be challenging due to logistical or budgetary constraints, vending machines provide a cost-effective way to offer library services.
  4. Integration with Online Platforms:

    • These machines can be integrated with library databases and online platforms, allowing users to browse the catalog, reserve materials, and manage their accounts seamlessly.
  5. Increased Circulation:

    • The convenience of self-service encourages more people to borrow materials, increasing the circulation of library resources.
  6. Innovative Services:

    • Libraries can use these machines to offer innovative services such as digital book downloads, providing access to e-books, audiobooks, and other digital resources.
  7. Accessibility for Diverse Audiences:

    • Vending machines are designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, ensuring that library services are inclusive and meet the needs of all patrons. 

Want to increase accessibility
& enhance convenience
in your community?

Thinking Outside the Box in Library Innovation

library innovationWhen it comes to library goals, increasing patrons is a timeless (and probably universal) objective. Given the events of the past couple of years (global pandemic, anyone?), libraries have had to think outside that proverbial box more than ever.Read More