Americans 18-30 are public libraries' biggest fans. "And people are going to libraries not only for the Internet-enabled computers there but also for library reference books, newspapers and magazines," reports the Associated Press, citing a new study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew/Internet director Lee Rainie told the AP that this age group is the generation that saw libraries going from book repositories to "information hubs," with database-accessing computers alongside reference bookshelves. Still, the findings were a surprise after an authoritative Benton Foundation report 10 years ago, which said 18-to-24-year-olds were the people least likely to view libraries as important. "That generation [now 28-34 in age] now uses libraries to solve problems at half the rate as the current 18-30 set, the new study found," the AP reports, adding that in the 10-year time period since the Benton report, library Internet access "has grown from about 44% of public libraries to more than 99%." But I suspect increased library connectivity is only part of the explanation. Internet literacy does not spell media literacy. My theory is that media literacy and critical thinking are needed in proportion to Net literacy. In other words, the more access young people (and all of us) have to information the more they need guidance from experts in media literacy, or information navigation (aka librarians).
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