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Can Gen Z save public libraries?

How a new generation of bookworms has brought argyle jumpers back in fashion

Can Gen Z save public libraries?  How a new generation of bookworms has brought argyle jumpers back in fashion

«I discovered a new place to study and work,» announces Chiara, 22 years old. «It's a public library, so the entrance is free.» With 75.2 thousand posts on TikTok, the hashtag #library presents a series of videos that narrate the university student's experience firsthand. Besides coffee, which may not always appear on the desks of the building but inevitably pops up in the hands of the protagonists, Gen Z's storytelling sees them delve into reading wearing thick sweaters, '80s jeans, and slim-framed glasses, perfectly in line with the geek chic aesthetic that is bringing intellectual brands into the spotlight. More of a meeting and leisure place than a serious study spot, the library is Gen Z's new playground, a space far from the sterility of social media where they can meet new people and showcase themselves. Data confirms this new trend: in Italy, online searches for "library near me" have increased by +300% in the last year, while last November, a report from the American Library Association found that young people use public libraries more than any previous generation - even though 43% of Gen Z does not consider themselves avid readers, highlights the ALA research, half visit a library at least once a year. If we thought Academia and Litcore trends came from TV shows like Wednesday Addams and Elite, we were wrong.

@freemad__ Do you know other beautiful libraries in Rome? #rome #italy #library #study #studywithme #work original sound - o

Even in Italy, BookTok, one of the many small worlds that have taken shape on the Chinese social media, is no longer so niche. Countless creators publish book-themed content, as many as the genres they explore. While Colleen Hoover's novels are popular worldwide, heavily influencing publishing sales, in Italy accounts like @boogiebookie, @libreriadicami, and @lalibreriadiginii accumulate thousands of followers per month. Alongside this now mainstream wave of fantasy novels and Book Hauls, a series of pages with more classic-focused content are emerging, including @whitelandsrarebooks, @rickypedi, and @edoardoprati_, who narrate the history of modern literature - and ancient manuscripts, in the case of @whitelandsrarebooks - to a very young audience by exploiting TikTok's algorithm and a old-school college look. Remembering the outfits from Dead Poets Society, the success of the new Italian Book Creators partly depends on aesthetics. Whether it's the charm of a diamond-patterned sweater or high school seniors' interest in Montale, the younger generations like library mice, and publishing houses have already noticed, with the subsequent merchandising called "litcore" taking its place.

Following in the footsteps of the production house A24, which revitalized the cinematographic merchandising market by producing fashionable items, the literary world has discovered the grip of best-selling authors on the new generations. They want the names of Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, and Italo Calvino on a baseball cap or, even better, the image of their most famous cover on a tote bag. A marketing move also coming from small independent companies, making reading a feature to wear and an integral part of one's personal style is one of the many ways Gen Z rediscovers old hobbies and repackages them in a fashionable aesthetic, ready for consumption. Not all book lovers flaunt their interest on TikTok, but all library visitors know that sooner or later, they'll end up in a reel of their desk neighbour.