How Millennials Are Reviving Our Libraries

No generation has received more flack since the Generation Xers or even the Boomers than  Millennials. Millennials are all about technology, safety, efficiency, and are often labeled as entitled and narcissistic due to their dependence on technology. Despite all the controversy surrounding millennials, they are saving our libraries!!!


According to the latest Pew Research report, over half of millennials have visited a public library or bookmobile in the past year unlike past generations.

Young couple smiling through a stack of library books.


With a generation so focused on technology, what’s the allure?


Most public libraries have revamped the way you use them, and there are advantages like free Wi-Fi, Ebooks, Audiobooks, meeting spaces, and classes.


Although all the technology upgrades and programs might not be the most traditional way to use a library, it’s just as important to cultivate the desire for learning and networking for all ages. If you’re making a quick stop by the library, you might notice a surplus of 18 to 29 year olds perusing the section on 3D technology or see a class on social media marketing being held in one of the conference rooms.


“Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision.” (Pew Research Report), Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations


Before you decide that millennials are whiny overgrown children ready to receive their ribbon for recognition and give suggestions on how to improve anything they get there hands on, realize they are keeping our libraries thriving and piquing the interest of not just theirs, but younger generations.

Portlandia skit where millennials are complaining about everything being unfair.


It’s easy to throw shade on the blossoming youth coming after us. We judge them for “having it easier” with more standard and accessible resources. Honestly, we should be grateful they can help us figure out how to use the latest iPhone. LOL! Is it really their fault that earlier generations laid the foundation for them to become this way?


“Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.” — Joel Stein, Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation


Gif of a millennial receiving a recognition award.


Think about it. Millennials’ parents are most likely from the Boomer generation, or slightly there after. The Boomers constantly remind everyone that they didn’t have the technology and opportunities that their children have today. Yet, they are the very engineers of how this came to be.


A study from 1970 showed that people wanted to improve kids’ self-esteem. Self-esteem is great for killing it in that job interview or finding the nerve to talk to someone, however, it may not help you keep the job or relationship.


Thanks to the great minds and innovations of our predecessor, the Boomers or Me Generation, the information revolution has done so much more than shape the way we communicate and use goods and services. It has been molding the minds of millennials since their first video game or Speak-and-Spell. It has been germinating a deep love of learning and innovation that has translated into the noticeably high attendance of millennials at public libraries.


“The convergence of computers and communications has altered our lives because of what they do with information, not because of what they are.” — Hank Koehn, Director of Futures Research at Security Pacific Bank in Los Angeles.

Millennial babies using an ipad.


Millennials have been “coddled” with technology, yet we complain that they are screen-locked and lack the motivation for human interaction or professional growth. Obviously, this can’t be completely true. Like illusive beasts, they are emerging from their parents basements, asking Siri to plan their day and give them directions to the library so they can learn how to save the world from behind a computer screen.


Gif of Kristen Ritter shaking her head.

Millennials obviously get a bad rap. They might swear too much, exhibit an odd sense of entitlement while lacking motivation to be self-sufficient, and insist on having a compost pile for growing an all-organic small-batch garden in their parents back yard, but what else can you do when you’ve accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt before you’re even 24.


We might not like their methods, but we gotta give millennials the credit they deserve. They are the largest population of adults affecting real change. They are highly charged and armed with technology on their side and libraries in their arsenal. Give them a chance. Love of knowledge and technology is the silver lining to the millennial condition.


What are you doing to keep your local library thriving?

Samantha Sierra

Writer, designer, dreamer, and overall creative, Samantha enjoys ruffling a few feathers with the unexpected. She is committed to seeking inspiration in unlikely places to bring about engaging design, generate conversation, and spark new ideas.