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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Serving Younger Americans

I am sure many of you saw that the Pew Research Internet Project released data today on Younger Americans and Public Libraries. This report pulled together data from different long term research projects but grouped it by age.  The summary findings can be found here.  On that page there are links to more detailed reports.

For the purposes of the study “younger Americans” are spilt into 3 distinct age groups so that the data can be assessed even more precisely:

  1. 16-17 year olds
  2. 18-24
  3. 25-29
Again, go here for more information.  I forwarded the link to the entire BPL RA team today.  We have had many conversations about how we can improve our services to older teens and “new adults.”  In fact, I find just the summary here even more helpful than all the ink that has been spilled over the “New Adult” fiction genre.  This is information about 16-29 yr olds actual behavior patterns that I can use.

The release of this data also reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2011 for NoveList entitled, “Drawing the 20- and 30-something Crowd Into Your Library.” I was happy to see some of what I said there does hold up against the PEW data.

I also dug up this conference program report I wrote from ALA 2013 on a program about 20 and 30-something library advocates.

So spend some time this week thinking about your “new adult” patrons, or younger Americans as PEW calls them [we need a better term people].  This new information gives us a lot more to go on.  We have no excuse if we do not try to attract more of them into the building.  And the good news is...a lot of it is positive.  This demographic likes the library, we just need to do a better job engaging and informing them.

And please do engage them because as I said in the NoveList article back in 2011, “...we cannot ignore them: this demographic includes the voters who will decide the fate of your library for the next 50 years. We need them.

But they need us too, they just donrealize it yet.  Lets get out there and remind them what we have to offer.

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