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Americans Visited Libraries More than the Movies Last Year

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According to a recent groundbreaking Gallup poll, Americans made more trips to their public library than to their local movie theater, by a huge margin. This hasn't really changed over the decades, but it's still an interesting cultural note. Ultimately, it could mean that Americans still value the miracle of a public library service over paying for a movie ticket.

Specifically, the poll measured how many self reported yearly trips the average American made to engage in specific leisure activities. Americans reported 10.5 yearly trips to the library, compared to going to the movies 5.3 times per year. The next highest on the list were sporting events (4.7), live music and theater (3.8), national or historical parks (3.7), and museums (2.5). The three lowest ranking activities were casinos (2.5), amusement parks (1.5), and zoos (0.9). Women reported going to libraries nearly twice as often as men (13.4 for women, 7.5 for men), and the age group most likely to visit a library was 18-29 year olds.

The lowest income group (under $40,000/year) was the most likely to visit a library, and the least likely to attend a movie. This seems to suggest an inclination toward free or low-cost leisure activities, and yet the same group was also about 33% more likely to go to a casino than the other income groups on average, and about half as likely to make a trip to a museum. Obviously there are still income and cultural barriers to be overcome, but the overwhelming inclination toward libraries is good news for the institutions themselves. Personally, I think that in the age of technology, and the near constant question of 'are libraries still relevant' (hint: yes) plaguing internet forums and leaving libraries scrambling to get the funding to catch up with desired electronic services, this poll tells us, first and foremost, that libraries are here to stay.

See the Gallup poll summary here.

Photo: Eli Digital Creative/ Pixabay

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