If you're of a certain age, or particularly geeky, you'll recall the "bring out your dead" bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Libraries, like the unfortunate guy slung over John Cleese's shoulder, are still not dead yet. And they're getting better. The newest data-point: a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey on library use.

Some of the more interesting findings:

  • Internet users were more than twice as likely to patronize libraries as non-Internet users, according to the survey.
  • More than two-thirds of library visitors in all age groups said they used computers while at the library.
  • Sixty-five percent of them looked up information on the Internet while 62 percent used computers to check into the library's resources.

As the New York Times (actually an uncredited Reuters writer) reports,

The survey showed 62 percent of Generation Y respondents said they visited a public library in the past year, with a steady decline in usage according to age. Some 57 percent of adults aged 43 to 52 said they visited a library in 2007, followed by 46 percent of adults aged 53 to 61; 42 percent of adults aged 62 to 71; and just 32 percent of adults over 72.

"We were surprised by these findings, particularly in relation to Generation Y," said Lee Rainie, co-author of the study and director of the Pew project. In 1996 a survey by the Benton Foundation found young adults saw libraries becoming less relevant in the future.

"Scroll forward 10 years and their younger brothers and sisters are now the most avid library users," Rainie said.

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