Gen Zers And Millennials Have Adopted An Unlikely Place As Their Gathering Spot

Not only do libraries foster community, but they also remove a number of barriers to books.

young woman smiling in the public library Instaphotos, Liu Mingzhu / CanvaPro

Libraries are full of nostalgia, whether you spent your finals week in college holed up in a cozy corner or weekends on their playgrounds as a kid. However, the recent resurgence of public libraries is allowing many Gen Zers and Millenials to create new memories, as they make their way back into the public space that so many of us grew up within. 

Younger generations have adopted public libraries as their new gathering spot. 

A 2023 American Library Association study found that Gen Zers and Millennials are visiting the library at higher rates compared to their older counterparts. Not only that, they’re reading and picking up physical copies of books more frequently than other generations. 


Gen Zers and Millennials Have Adopted An Unlikely Place As Their Gathering SpotPhoto: polinaloves / Shutterstock

While they’re known for their selection of books and occasional author events, public libraries do a ton more for their communities in a variety of avenues — especially when they’re being actively utilized and funded


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Not only do public libraries replace the financial burden of reading for many communities, but they also tend to offer additional helpful public resources. 

While many communities lose out on shared spaces, educational resources, and community building due to financial strain, public libraries almost completely dissolve those financial barriers. Especially if their location is centrally located, public libraries can loan books, provide educational resources, host community events, and even give visitors access to technology at little to no cost to them. 



While many enjoy the perks of a free library card or unrestricted library access, one user on TikTok mentioned that authors also get financial perks for library goers who read their books.


“It’s a great tool to use to support your favorite author if you can’t afford to buy their books,” they said. “Most libraries have an option where you can request they buy a specific author.”

Alongside the in-person gathering space that many younger generations have utilized, most libraries also house a digital platform. This online platform transforms the landscape of public libraries, allowing more demographics to access resources, including individuals with disabilities, transportation barriers, or time constraints. 

With this growth in popularity, many public libraries have received grants and funding that allow them to abolish any additional financial barriers or over-due costs that patrons would otherwise be responsible for. 

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Many argue that public libraries have had a resurgence in response to Gen Z and Millennials' need for a ‘third place.’ 

Finding and fostering community is an important aspect of human life, and in recent years, younger generations have lost places where they’re able to do just that. “Third places” are these community hubs, which typically manifest in areas like public parks or cafes.  

However, with rising inflation, insufficient infrastructure, and other societal barriers, many Gen Zers and Millennials have struggled to find this “third place” in their lives, especially ones that are free of charge. The resurgence of public libraries in these younger generations has provided some hope. 

Lexi, a TikTok creator known as @lovelylivingtravel, shared the importance of her public library in fostering productivity and wellness despite the difficulty she’s incurred working from home.

“I don’t have a third place,” she shared, “I hardly have a second place [working from home].” 




With coffee shops being expensive and overstimulating, and her home being distracting, she found it difficult to find a space where she could interact healthily with others in her community and also be productive at work. Accessing her public library, along with their private “study rooms”, gave her a chance to get out of her house and connect with others. 

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Alongside technology access, cultural engagement, and public health programs, public libraries also support the literacy of homeless communities in their area. 

With this rapid expansion of barriers to traditional public spaces, most demographics are experiencing increased rates of loneliness and depression. However one demographic is encountering these negative effects at much higher rates — people experiencing homelessness. 


Public libraries might serve as a social “third place” for fostering community, but their accessibility also helps to provide essential services to people experiencing homelessness. 

Hannah Norman, a visual reporter for KFF Health News on TikTok, uses her platform to speak on the benefits of public libraries in communities, beyond just books and technology access. Public libraries have TRULY transformed into “safe havens” for all ages to resort to in times of crisis. 



“Many now offer help accessing food stamps, housing, medical care, and sometimes even showers and haircuts,” Norman shared. “Here in Washington D.C., many offer free rapid COVID-19 tests.” 


So, maybe it’s time to pull out that old library card in the back of your wallet, or even consider donating to your local public library in hopes of helping someone experiencing isolation or searching for resources in your community. 

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.