In 2016 the number of library systems was 9,057.
However, many have multiple branch locations, so the actual number of physical locations is considerably higher. That same year there was a total of 5,833 movie theaters and 40,759 movie screens in the U.S.
Are libraries becoming obsolete? This debate has heated up in recent years. Some have expressed the opinion that with such a bounty of information easily accessible online, is there a need for libraries? Yes! And these institutions will survive. Libraries remain very much in use and per a recent Gallup poll, visiting the library was “by far” the most common cultural activity among Americans in 2019.
Based on telephone interviews, Gallup asked participants how many times they had engaged in different leisure activities over the past year. Going to the library was the clear winner, averaging 10.5 trips. Seeing a movie at the theater was the second-most common activity, with an average of 5.3 visits. Other activities such as attending a live sporting event
followed and going to the zoo was at the bottom of the list.
These latest figures represent a follow-up to a survey conducted in December 2001. Overall rankings were by and large the same, suggesting libraries are as popular now as they were at the turn of the millennium.
Visiting the library is free, as are the variety of services libraries offer, including Wi-Fi. In fact, a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2016 found that while most respondents visited libraries to borrow books, 29 percent of library-going Americans over the age of 16 went to use computers, the internet or a public Wi-Fi network.
Though men and women reported doing most leisure activities at the same rate, women visited the library nearly twice as much as their male counterparts. And 18 to 29-year-olds visited the library the most, possibly because this group included college students.
The survey offers reassuring evidence that people are using libraries today to read, research, surf the internet and more. So indeed, these much-loved institutions will remain an important fixture in communities across the country.
If you are looking for something new to try - Kilgore Memorial Library offers book clubs, Gaming for Teens, family trivia nights, Library Learning Time (for walkers, wigglers and crawlers), Read and Rec and now, Tech Tuesdays for that little extra assistance with that new phone, tablet, etc. From now until 3 p.m., on April 25 (the end of National Library Week) each time you use library technology, you can enter to win a Kindle Fire! When you add that the Friends of the Library maintain the Kent Bedient Gallery, the Elmer Baker Display Case and an on-going book sale in the hallway that takes you to the meeting room spaces in the building – there is something for everyone!