In the words of Arthur, childhood friend to many: "Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!"
And it looks like kids who grew up with the lovable aardvark are buying that message: 53% of millennials say they used a library or bookmobile in the past year, according to new data from Pew Research Center. That's higher than any other generation, with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Boomers and 36% of the Silent Generation saying they've visited their local library in the past 12 months.
And yes, the research specifies that these account for visits to the public library, not an academic library on a college campus.
This news is especially endearing to me, the daughter of a librarian mother, who spent many a Sunday afternoon among books, magazines, CDs and playing some Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo back in the day. While I don't spend quite as much time at my local library now, even as an adult, my first weekend after moving to New York City involved opening up a New York Public Library account (nerd alert!).
If you've been to any public library recently, you'll know it's not just rows of bookshelves anymore. In fact, it's a pretty perfect example of a service adapting to the digital age and changing consumer needs. Libraries now offer selections of e-books, audiobooks, DVDs and more for checkout — a great free or low-cost activity for those who don't have the resources to buy outright, or for reasons either economical or practical would rather rent than own (sound familiar?).
There are also way more services to take advantage of, like access to computers and internet connections, youth literacy programs, community meeting spaces, and even technology "petting zoos" for people to explore 3-D printers and other emerging devices.
So for now, it looks the evolution of public libraries is keeping them safe among the millennial cohort, unlike the fates of boxed cereals and bar soaps. After all, public libraries are a part of the sharing economy, and we all know how much millennials love that.