I recently wrote about Millennial reading habits. It turns out that they do love books.
This is further supported by a new report by Literary Hub, that highlighted a surprising fact: in 2019, more Americans went to the library than to the movies. At a time when the 2021 US budget seeks to eliminate funding for libraries, this is striking news indeed.
As Dan Sheehan reports, a recent Gallup poll (the first such survey since 2001) found that visiting the local library remains by far the most popular cultural activity for Americans.
And Justin McCarthy of Gallup continues:
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 (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list.
Two more interesting findings are that women report visiting the library nearly twice as frequently as men do, and that libraries are visited most by adults in low-income households and least by adults in high-income households.
Some other key findings include the following:
- Across nearly all measures, the highest average activity rates are among the 30 to 49 age group, while the lowest are among those 65 and older.
- In general, Americans in high-income households report doing activities the most, while Americans in low-income households participate the least.
- 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.
- It makes no real difference to library attendance whether families have children under 18 or not.
- The Midwest love their libraries. The South… less so.
The bottom line is that, despite the proliferation of digital-based activities over the past two decades — including digital books, podcasts, streaming entertainment services and advanced gaming — libraries have endured as a place Americans visit nearly monthly on average.
You can see all the data on Gallup’s website. Congratulations to all you librarians out there; keep fighting the good fight!
Wow, that’s a hell of a thing!
We all need a bit of good news 🙂
These are some interesting statistics. Things I didn’t know.
Same here! Thanks for reading, Michelle 🙂
Wow, I find this result really surprising. I live and work in a university community and in my spare time mostly hang out with other writers, so most of my friends are big readers. But the only ones who ever go to the library are those with kids, and not even most of them. This is true even for those of us who spent our childhoods at our local libraries. Yet I have tons of friends who go to the movies on a regular basis. I realize that my social network is a non-representative sample, but I would have thought them to be *more* likely than average to go to the library, not less.
That *is* surprising! Intimacy does breed contempt, I guess 🙂
I have noted this trend myself.
Thanks, Nicholas. This is encouraging news indeed. I have shared it with my socialmedia accounts and also with the hosts of a library fundraiser coming up this month in Wetumpka, Alabama. From Greece to Wetumpka! You are indeed spanning the globe with your inspiring words. Have a wonderful day.
That’s such a sweet thing to say, Iris! Thank you–and many thanks for sharing 😀
I rather suspect that library opening times in the US are more generous than in the UK.
I worked in Redbridge public libraries in another life: in the late 60s, as a Library Assistant, and through the 70s, as a librarian. Our opening times were 9.30 – 8pm on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, and 9.30 – 5pm on Wed and Sat.
Our local library here in Whittlesey is open from 9 to 5pm Mon, Fri; 9 – 1pm Tues, Sat; 9-12 Wed and closed Thurs. The library where I used to work is open for longer, but only because it is now also a gym (!)
Ah, interesting point. As for that last sentence… a gym?!
Of course, libraries generally have a video section. This allows people to borrow films, thereby allowing them to “go to the movies” without leaving home, and without paying a dime for a ticket.
I guess you can also watch movies using the library’s free WiFi…
Interesting statistics! Is there a sub-set recording the main purpose of the library visit ie. are visitors there to borrow books or attend exhibitions or use the computer databases? Thanks
I don’t think so, but you should check the original Gallup poll (link in the post)