Are Libraries Still Popular?

Despite the ease of accessing information online, Americans continue to visit the library regularly -- in fact, more often than they engage in any other cultural activity.
Despite the ease of accessing information online, Americans continue to visit the library regularly -- in fact, more often than they engage in any other cultural activity.

You might think that the availability of information on the internet would put an end to the popularity of public libraries in the United States. But you’d be wrong. A Gallup poll of more than 1,000 adults across the United States in December 2019 found that visiting a library was by far the most common cultural activity in the country.

Respondents said they made 10.5 trips to the library in 2019, compared to seeing a movie at a theater, the runner-up on the list of nine leisure activities, with 5.3 annual visits. Women visited the library nearly twice as much as men, but men attended sporting events and visited national parks more often.

A trip to the library:

  • Americans listed attending a live sporting event third, at 4.7 annual visits, followed by attending a musical concert or theatrical event at 3.8 visits and going to a national or historical park at 3.7 visits. Going to a zoo was last on the list at 0.9 visits.

  • The first tax-supported public library in the United States was founded in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1933.

  • Cost may be a big factor: It’s free to visit a library and access its services. Previous research has found that 29 percent of Americans utilize the library to access computers, the internet and/or public Wi-Fi.

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    • Despite the ease of accessing information online, Americans continue to visit the library regularly -- in fact, more often than they engage in any other cultural activity.
      Despite the ease of accessing information online, Americans continue to visit the library regularly -- in fact, more often than they engage in any other cultural activity.