Whole Lotta Library Love | God's World News

Whole Lotta Library Love

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    EmmaRuth Potter visits the Oberlin Regional Library in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Darby Bobo)
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    EmmaRuth Potter, like many other Gen Zs and Millennials, enjoys using her local library. (Darby Bobo)
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    Libraries often offer resources beyond books. Here, the College of San Mateo Library in California hosts a craft event. (College of San Mateo Library/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)
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    Many young people prefer print books over e-books and audiobooks. (AP/Steve Helber)
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    Adults and kids of all ages can enjoy libraries. (Pixabay)
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WORLDteen | Ages 11-14 | $35.88 per year

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When this writer thinks of her childhood, she warmly recalls reading books, freely browsing the local library, exploring literary worlds, and reenacting stories with siblings.

But for years beginning in high school, I entered a library only to seek resources for school assignments. I forgot what it felt like to willingly visit a building dedicated to collecting a vast diversity of tomes.

Over the past two years, this Zoomer (Gen Z) graduated from college, got married, and entered the work force. The emancipation from syllabus and rubric offered space to return to reading for pleasure, not duty. My love for real books reignited. Of the almost 200 books I’ve read in that time, about 40 came from the library. And I intend to use the library even more in 2024.

I’m not the only one my age who has fallen back in love with the library. According to a study by Portland State University (PSU), Gen Z and Millennial generations visit libraries consistently. More than half—54%!—of those young people trekked to their local libraries in 2022.

PSU found that the younger generations prefer print books over e-books and audiobooks, despite their consistent use of digital technology. American Zoomers and Millennials read an average of two print books per month.

Even 23% of Gen Z and Millennials who don’t call themselves readers visited a library in the past year. That’s because libraries do more than serve up books. Patrons record podcasts, make music, craft with friends, play video games, and more. Quiet spaces offer free Wi-Fi. That’s ideal for students, remote workers, or individuals who can’t access the internet at home.

Libraries also offer spaces refreshingly free from the ads and trends of consumerism that fill the digital landscape. At the library, there are no fees—provided you return resources on time. Borrowing from the library lets readers explore genres and authors without a financial commitment. (Maybe I love the library in part because I see a parallel to God’s free gift of grace in Isaiah 55:1, in which we are invited to partake with no money.)

Gen Zs and Millennials see the library as an oasis. Digital overload can be quieted there. Like my peers, when my day is chaotic and my mind feels too full, I find it grounding to browse the stacks. I savor handling the volumes in a quest for my next adventure. Printed books feel dependable.

In this modern world that operates in two realms—the physical and the virtual—getting lost in a good book (or a library!) is much more satisfying than following a digital rabbit trail.

by EmmaRuth Potter in Raleigh, NC

Why? It isn’t good to be constantly on the go. Libraries offer an option for slowing down and resting. They also create spaces for developing God-given creativity and imagination.

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