The public library system is not as sexy as the latest Marvel movie or the NHL All Star Game, but more people visit their local branch than see movies. In 2019 1.3 billion people visited the public library in the United States, whereas 1.2 million went to the theatre. A recent Gallup Poll also found that more people visit the library, than attend all sporting events combined, this includes MLB, NBA, NHL and Nascar.
“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks ) and zoos are the least common activities among this list.”
Here are some notable aspects of the report.
- Did you know that more than 172 million Americans have library cards? That means that more than half of the American public has a library card right now.
- Did you know that librarians answer around 250 million questions from the public each year?
- Did you know that millennials use libraries more than any other generation?
- Did you know that 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 widest gaps between high- and low-income households are in reports of attending a live sporting event, a live music or theatrical event, a museum, and going to the movie theater — all things often associated with significant ticket prices.
- Conversely, the library — which is free and offers a variety of services including WiFi — is visited most by adults in low-income households and least by adults in high-income households.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.