Young clientele: Libraries are just as relevant to those under 30

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Teens and young adults are just as likely as older Americans to use the public library. You could look it up.

Although young people might reach for a cellphone to find out whether that's true -- the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says it is -- their easy access to hand-held electronic devices has not cut into their reliance on the traditional source of data, the library. Fully 18 percent of them even use their mobile devices to access a library's website.

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. Although they use the libraries differently -- they are more likely to use computers there or to meet with friends or study there -- 80 percent of 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.

Pittsburghers are big believers in libraries, too. The Carnegie libraries in the city and the network of libraries in the suburbs are supported by the 1 percent sales tax of the Regional Asset District. City libraries also benefit from a 0.25-mill property tax.

Such support must continue if libraries are to serve their customers of any age.

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