Federal Report Provides National Data on Value of Libraries

Federal Report Provides National Data on Value of Libraries

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services has published the FY 2010 report on Public Libraries in the United States. The report’s data shows the vitality of public library service in America. Public libraries are anchors in their communities, serving a broad constituency with both traditional services and new ones that reflect the changing needs of their populations. According to the report, there were 17,078 public library branches and bookmobiles across the country in 2010. On average, Americans visited a public library 5.3 times, and libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials.

The report includes state-by-state analysis including comparison of regional and national data as well as figures from 2009 and 2010. Minnesota data shows 357 public outlets served a population of 5,303,931.

The report is particularly compelling in documenting the importance of libraries to the nation’s children: children’s materials comprise a full one-third of the 2.46 billion materials circulated and 61.7 percent of libraries’ 3.75 million public programs are designed for children.

And the relevance of libraries in the digital age is reinforced with the data. Since 2003 the number of e-books in the nation’s public libraries has tripled and in the last ten years the number of public access computers has doubled.

The report reveals other trends. There are decreases in total operating revenue and expenditures for public libraries. While public libraries in America are doing more with less, local communities bear an increasing portion of total public funding for libraries.