Libraries Survive Where Other Institutions Fail

Millennials; they are the generation that is blamed for killing everything from napkins to restaurant chains. Some would say even bedrock institutions such as fashion or democracy itself are in ruins because of this younger demographic. It would seem that nothing is safe from these trendy serial killers. The only exception seems to be libraries.

According to a study from the Pew Research Center, millennials are more likely to visit their local library than any other generations. The research center found that 53 percent of millennials surveyed had used the library within the past year. Gen Xers came in at 45 percent and baby boomers ranked in with 43 percent.

So what has a majority of millennials flocking to libraries? Has reading become cool? Perhaps, but the data points to factors such as a lack of financial resources. In other words, the library has free stuff.

Now obviously whatever a patron take out is expected to be returned within a certain window of time. So long as the item is returned within the same condition and by the due date library users won’t have to pay a single cent.

In addition to no upfront costs, libraries offer something that one can’t put a price on. Wisdom, learning and experiences all within reach. Westchester Library Representative Dr. Terry Kirchner, advocates that public libraries are a place for discovery.

“The great thing about public libraries is that they offer education to all,” says Kirchner, “noting that the possibilities span over age groups and backgrounds of all kinds. An Added benefit is that libraries allow the public to discover something at their own pace.” People can discover topics that interest them on their own, in groups, and workshops.

Realistically, books may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And in the age of the internet the capacity to just sit down and read a book doesn’t have the same thrill as binge watching netflix or playing video games. But the library has these as well.

Okay, maybe they don’t give out free Netflix passes, but you can rent out movies, CDs, and video games with your library card. There is a wide selection to choose from, ranging from the most recent action releases to informative documentaries. To top it off, if the film you’re looking for isn’t at your library of choice, chances are it can be delivered to that location. It might not be instant like Netflix, but the library won’t bill you for the rental.

They also won’t follow your habits or trends. When you search for something on the internet, be it a book, an article of clothing or anything in between, for the next week ads will follow you revolving around that subject. This is regardless if you bought the product or decided it just wasn’t for you.

“A great strength of public libraries is the privacy,” Kirchner says. When checking out a product, library users aren’t hassled on the matter nor are they offered things that are in similar tastes. If anything at all, a nice conversation may strike from the transaction.

For those who still might not be convinced that libraries are one of the greatest things to happen to society. Consider this. Free wifi. Not like the free wifi at a Starbucks where one may be tempted to purchase an overpriced latte to stay within range of the connection. And if you don’t have a laptop or tablet to use, no worries. Libraries today usually have computers for public access.

One might think that these are the only benefits but truly the list goes on. The modern library isn’t just a place to read the latest page turners. They are art galleries, concert halls, employment hubs, classrooms, and a place to meet with fellow community members.

With the winter break encroaching upon us, students who want to continue learning should consider checking out their local library.

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