“When we did that, it was like day and night,” said Hildebrand, who library was named the Best Small Library in America for 2012. “They could socialize, they could be treated with respect, be able to use the computer and play games together and not have to have adults continually telling them they needed to be quiet or they couldn’t do that. That made all the difference.”
However, one aspect in particular of the Pew Research Center’s findings raised questions about whether younger Americans might sustain libraries decades into the future. Despite their use of them, only 43 percent of people ages 16-24 consider libraries to be “very important” to their communities. Comparatively, 68 percent of Americans 30 and older think libraries are “very important” pillars in their communities.
“Perhaps they just see libraries as a place where they go to meet their friends,” said Jack Martin, president of Young Adult Library Services Association. “I think it’s probably safe to say that they don’t understand in a lot of cases the impact that’s happening to them right now when they walk into the library, when they find something and when they’re digging through information.
“And I think in a lot of cases they might take it for granted because they’re just teenagers.”
An interesting ancillary finding in the new Pew Research Center report is that handheld tablets are one of the only types of newer technological innovations in which younger Americans aren’t the most proficient early adopters: 25 percent of Americans ages 16-29 own a tablet, compared to 35 percent of people between the ages of 30-49.
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