February 5, 2020

Americans still love libraries. Here’s a reminder why you should, too

A recent study done by Gallup found that Americans visited the library more than went to the movies in 2019.

On average, Americans visit the library once a month. Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

Having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card! In a recent study, Gallup found that library visits were more common than trips to the movies in 2019. According to their data, on average, adults took 10.5 trips to the library and 5.3 trips to the movie theater. Additionally, they took 3.5 visits to national parks and 2.5 visits to museums.

Who goes to the library the most? The study reveals that adults aged 18 to 29 visited the most compared to other age brackets, possibly because many people of that age are still in school. Women also go to the library almost twice as often as men report going—13.4 visits a year compared to 7.5 visits. Overall, Americans on average visit the library once a month.

This monthly rate should come as no surprise. Another study, done in 2019 by the American Enterprise Institute, found that people living in communities where they had easy access to libraries and other amenities were more likely to develop a sense of social connection and trust. If you haven’t visited a library recently, here are some more reasons why you should.

Get moving: Across the country, libraries are increasingly offering free exercise classes, such as pilates, yoga, and tai chi, to engage both the community and their muscles. “[The fitness classes are] definitely filling a gap somewhere in our community, especially in small towns in the South,” Jessie Yates, the adult programming librarian of the Taylor County Public Library in Campbellsville, Kentucky, told The Outline in 2018.

Dress up: Have a job interview but you’re not quite ready or able to put your best foot forward? The New York Public Library has business accessories that card holders can borrow, including neck ties, handbags and briefcases. The library also hosts classes on job hunting and crucial workplace skills as part of its NYPL Grow Up program.

Grow strong: Books from the library can help grow your mind, but many libraries have a resource to help grow your veggie gardens: seeds! Libraries in Dearborn and Grosse Pointe, Michigan, “loan” their seeds to local residents, who then plant them and then harvest new seeds from the crops to return to the library.

Save lives: The libraries of Salt Lake County, Utah have made free emergency drug overdose-reducing packs available since 2018. Each pack contains two injectable syringes of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. Additionally, library staff have been trained to deal with the event of an opioid overdose. “We are committed to the community and we want the community to know that we’re there for them, in any circumstance,” Liz Sollis, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake County Library system, told Route Fifty.

Turn the page: Don’t forget the library’s first function: Providing excellent books to read. From reading programs designed to challenge kids and teens, to community-wide reads that help to bring everyone together, libraries can make reading feel revolutionary.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the deputy editor of The Renewal Project
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