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Use of Public Libraries continues to increase

Use of Public Libraries (Updated September 2016) [see this link for all the respective data included in this article]: “In addition to making a wide variety of reading, audio, video, reference, and archival materials available to children and adults, public libraries nationwide have been developing programs to reinforce their value to the community. As the Institute of Museum and Library Services notes, public libraries support lifelong learning by “offer[ing] a wide range of programs for people of all ages, including story time for toddlers and preschoolers, homework and after-school programs for teens, author book readings, and computer classes for adults and seniors.” Findings and Trends – After rising steadily for almost a decade and a half, per capita visits to libraries declined 13% from 2009 to 2014 (Indicator V-8a). Circulation also declined, but beginning a year later. From 2010 to 2014, per capita circulation dropped 9%. Despite declines in per capita visits and per capita circulation, library programs attracted growing numbers of participants (Indicator V-8b). The trend in children’s programs is particularly important, as such events attract the majority of library program attendees. (A May 2013 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that children and their parents are more likely to use the library than are others in the population.) From 1995 to 2009, attendance at children’s programs grew in every year but two; however, a drop in attendance at children’s programs in 2010 contributed to a brief plateau in total attendance at library programs. Since that time, growing attendance brought children’s programming to its highest recorded level, 229 per 1,000 members of the U.S. population—44% higher than in 1995. Total program attendance at public libraries has also been rising rapidly since 2010. Programs for young adults constitute a relatively small portion of attendance at public library activities, but attendance has grown considerably since numbers were first recorded in 2009. Attendance increased 52% from 2009 to 2014—from 14.8 to 21.8 per 1,000 members of the national population. Use of public libraries varied considerably among the states for each of the five use measures discussed above. The customizable visualizations under Indicator V-8c and Indicator V-8d allow Humanities Indicators users to compare states with respect to annual number of visits, circulation, and attendance at different types of library programs.”

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