Will libraries disappear?

The Society’s Observation Center published a study last May on the social behavior of the French. She wants to be pessimistic for the future of libraries in France.

A sector less and less popular with young people. The Society’s Observation Center released a study last May, dealing with the consequences of the social behavior of the French, jeopardizing the sustainability of libraries in France.

The study concerns a fairly broad period, going from the year 1973 to 2018. It therefore does not take into account the Covid period from 2020, having certainly hit the rate of frequentation of cultural places in general such as libraries hard. .

According to surveys on cultural practices carried out by the Ministry of Culture, between 1997 and 2018, the share of the population registered in libraries decreased from 21% to 15%. A rate equivalent to that of the early 1980s.

Before the 2000s, this share had however progressed, in particular thanks to the “development of the number of establishments, then by the loan of audio and video supports (growth of the media libraries)”, recalled the Center.

modernize at all costs

Despite these efforts, recent years have seen the emergence of downloading and broadcasting on streaming platforms on Internetnotably reducing the borrowing or purchase of CDs and DVDs, in particular for the younger generations.

Libraries have thus seen their share of registrants among 15 to 19 year olds halved, falling from 40% to 20% in just twenty years, due to a reduction in the reading of books in the population as a whole.

Nevertheless, some libraries have been able to adapt and continue to increase the interest of their readers by transforming themselves into media libraries. And this change has had a significant impact on young people, using these places conducive to work or study, without having to register or borrow books.

While overall attendance falls less than enrollment, dropping from 31% to 27% between 1977 and 2018, digitization booksdespite few studies on the subject, may also exert a strong influence on the sustainability of libraries.

These establishments must therefore modernize more than ever, manage to win back different audiences: “in 2018, 12% of non-graduates visited a library (2018 data), three times less than higher education graduates”, d after the study.

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