“…but, nobody uses libraries anymore!”

You may have heard someone say “…but, nobody uses libraries anymore!”

EveryLibrary, a library advocate organization, hits back with numbers that tells a very different story:

  • Almost 100 million more people visit their libraries (1.3 billion) each year than see a movie at the theater (1.2 billion)
  • Libraries are visited over 1.3 billion times a year which is 10 times more than MLB (68 million), NFL (17 million), NBA (22 million), Hockey (21 million), and Nascar (4 million) combined?
  • 5 million more people attend just library programs than go to MLB (68 million), NFL (17 million), and NBA (22 million) games combined each year?
  • More than 172 million Americans have library cards. That means that more than half of the American public has a library card right now
  • Librarians answer around 250 million questions from the public each year
  • Millennials use libraries more than any other generation
  • Americans check out over 2.1 billion items from their public library every year. That’s an average of 16 items a year for every American or 32 items a year for every card holder.

The above statistics refer only to public libraries. These numbers don’t even include elementary, middle, or high school libraries and they don’t include data from Academic libraries on college and university campuses. They also don’t include data from private or membership libraries or corporate, legal, or other special libraries. That means that the statistics for all library usage in the United States is wildly under-reported and the actual statistics for library use are even greater than what we’re reporting here. 

If you don’t believe these stats, you can check them for yourself. All of the data on public library usage comes from the Annual Institute of Museum and Library Services report. This report includes data on the over 18,000 public libraries in the United States and the latest data is from 2017. You can find the data on professional sports attendance here and on movie theater attendance here. The data on millennial library use comes from the PEW report on libraries available here.

Libraries remain just as essential, if not more, in our lives.

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