The interior of the West Toledo Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library gives patrons young and old room to browse.
Teens and young adults are just as likely as older Americans to use the public library. You can look it up.
Although young people might reach for a cell phone to find out whether that’s true — the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project says it is.
Surprisingly, their easy access to hand-held electronic devices has not cut into their reliance on a far more traditional source of information — the local library. Nearly one and five young people even use their mobile devices to access a library’s Web site.
According to Pew’s telephone survey of 2,200 people conducted last fall, Americans under age 30 borrow print books and browse library shelves at rates similar to older people. That should inspire libraries to continue to develop programs relevant to young people.
Young and old use libraries differently, of course. Young people are more likely to use computers there, or to meet with friends or study there.
Nearly eight of 10 Americans between 16 and 29 years old said librarians were “very important” and 82 percent said they had read at least one book in the past year.
Fortunately, people in Toledo and Lucas County are big supporters of public libraries. The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is an essential institution in this community, providing education and literacy skills, entertainment and cultural uplift, free computer access, help with job searches, a forum for public meetings, and many other critical services to a broad range of residents.
Public libraries can also alleviate some of the disadvantages lower-income children face.
Last fall, Lucas County voters overwhelmingly approved a five-year, 2.9-mill levy to support the library. Such support must continue if libraries are to serve old — and young — customers alike.