Will libraries go away?

Will libraries go away?


The Observatory of the Society published a study on the social behavior of the French last May. She would like to be pessimistic about the future of libraries in France.

A sector that is becoming less and less popular with young people. The Center for Observation of Society published a study last May on the consequences of the social behavior of the French, which threaten the sustainability of libraries in France.

The study covers a fairly broad period, ranging from 1973 to 2018. It therefore does not take into account the Covid period from 2020, which has certainly hit hard the frequency of frequenting cultural places in general, such as libraries. .

According to the Ministry of Culture’s surveys of cultural practices, the proportion of the population registered in libraries fell from 21% in 1997 to 15% in 2018. A rate that matches that of the early 1980s.

Before the 2000s, however, this proportion had increased, thanks in particular to the “development in the number of establishments, then through the lending of audio and video carriers (growth of media libraries)”, the center recalled.

modernize at all costs

Despite these efforts, downloading and broadcasting on internet streaming platforms has gained acceptance in recent years, which has led to a particular decline in CD and DVD rental or purchase, particularly among younger generations.

The proportion of library subscribers among 15-19 year olds has thus halved, falling from 40% to 20% in just 20 years, reflecting a decline in book reading among the general population.

However, some libraries have been able to adapt and further engage their readers by turning into media libraries. And this change is having a significant impact on young people, who use these places to work or study without having to register or borrow books.

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If total admissions fall below enrollments, falling from 31% to 27% between 1977 and 2018, the digitization of books is also likely to have a strong impact on the sustainability of libraries, despite fewer studies on the subject. .

These institutions must therefore modernize more than ever and manage to win back different audiences: “In 2018, 12% of non-graduates visited a library (2018 data), three times less than university graduates”, d according to the study.