LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – “Check this out” is a common phrase at the library. But these days, it is not just because someone wants to take a book home.
It is also likely to be because of unique events that are bringing in more visitors.
“I’ve been the past couple of years to CALS Con,” Chad Kusturin mentioned. “Any event that I see, or a friend tells me about and I get interested in, I’ll be here for it.”
Kusturin is among a growing number of millennials who are patronizing public libraries. A recent study from Pew Research Center showed that millennials are more likely to visit a public library than adults in any other age group.
He and Jessica Creasy spent Tuesday evening at the Ron Robinson Theater watching ‘The Screaming Skull,’ a horror film from 1958. It was the latest installment in the summer-long Terror Tuesday series at the theater, and they said they had been to nearly each showing.
“I never knew they’d do anything like this before, until she told me about it,” Kusturin said, “and I was excited about it!”
“We have a lot of people who’ve never been here before,” explained Sarah Miller, the theater’s manager. “And they hear about the horror series, and, so, they come in and they’re like, ‘wow, the library does some really neat stuff!’ And we always tell them, ‘yes. Please keep coming.”
A short walk away, a group of friends met for the weekly game night that the CALS Main Library offers. As many as 30 people show up for the game nights, which will be moved to Saturdays to allow the most people to attend.
“I thought it was amazing,” Miller recalled. “When I moved to Little Rock, that the library offers so many awesome programs. It has a theater, and a bookstore, a café, a gallery, they do concerts. I think it’s awesome.”
CALS, the Laman Library System, and the Saline County Library all report an increase in the number of millennials frequenting their branches. One reason for the increase is that younger staffs are creating programs that appeal to them and in turn the younger members of the community.
“We really enjoy bringing that kind of opportunity and experience to our patrons,” Miller stated.
Miller said the horror films generally draw a crowd that ranges from 20 to 55-years-old. She claimed that programs like that are not aimed at any specific audience.
“I feel like the library does a really good job at not trying to push programs on millennials,” she added. “So, you know, as a millennial, you have certain things that are kind of geared right at you and in your face, that you’re like, ‘okay, I get it! I’m a millennial, you want me at your establishment!’ I feel like the library does a really good job at just having the kind of programs that people can enjoy, but almost at a millennial cost.”
“Something fun to do on a Tuesday evening, also,” Creasy said. “Something fun to do right after work, or, it doesn’t run really late in the evening. Two dollars. So, it’s something fun and reasonably priced to go do.”
Creasy first heard about the film series because of a social media post from CALS and told Kusturin about it. Word of mouth has helped the crowd grow each week. Miller said approximately 30 people attended the first screening, but more than 200 bought tickets to see ‘Dawn of the Dead.’
“I keep learning more and more that the library system’s doing all these different things that I didn’t even know about,” Kusturin said. “But through Facebook and everything, I’ve been learning more and more.”
CALS also offers book sales and book groups that meet at pizza restaurants. A spokesperson for the Laman Library mentioned video game events, gardening classes, and an upcoming series of home economics-style lessons as programs that attract millennials.
And a spokesperson for the Saline County Library said it has noticed a large increase in the number of millennials who bring their young children. She also pointed to yoga classes and craft workshops as popular programs.