Young people love libraries. That’s the conclusion of a huge new study of library use across the UK carried out by the Carnegie Trust UK.
The survey of 10,000 people revealed the number of young people using libraries across the UK has increased over the last five years. It defies the idea libraries are inherently old-fashioned and out-of-touch with the ways young people access information.
Young people aged between 15 and 24 are now the age group most likely to use libraries in England.
In Scotland, those aged between 24 and 34 are the most likely to use libraries. And library use among the millennial group – the 24 to 34-year-olds – has risen in England and Wales.
The Big Issue has been championing the tremendous value of libraries for people of all ages as part of our literacy campaign.
The Carnegie study provides plenty of evidence the public does indeed cherish local libraries. Around three-quarters of people in all parts of the UK – around 75% – say public libraries are important for their community. While roughly 50% of people have used a local library in the past year, two-fifths use their library regularly, at least once a month.
Future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to changing needs, said Carnegie UK Trust’s Martyn Evans
Martyn Evans, chief executive of Carnegie UK Trust, said the rise in library use among young people in particular was “extremely promising.”
Evans explained: “Local authority budgets are under severe pressure. All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.”
“We know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities,” he added.
Adjusting to a decline in the number of people borrowing books remains the biggest challenge faced by libraries facing budget cuts and closure. The people surveyed by the Carnegie Trust suggested more council services run inside libraries, adding a café or coffee shop, and holding more events would all increase frequency of use.
The Big Issue’s campaign to keep libraries open and champion greater literacy galvanised support from readers, authors, publishers and reading organisations.