May 23, 2022

New Report and Data From the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): “People Visited Public Libraries More Than a Billion Times in One Year”

From IMLS:

The Public Libraries Survey report, released today by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provides a snapshot of public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources in FY 2017.

Each year since 1988, the Public Libraries of the United States Survey has provided a national census of America’s public libraries. The data is collected from approximately 9,000 public library systems comprised of over 17,000 individual main libraries, library branches, and bookmobiles in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The 2017 report includes the following findings:

  • More than 172 million registered users, representing 55% of the 312 million Americans who lived within a public library service area, visited public libraries 1.32 billion times in 2017. In other words, on average, each American visited a public library over 4 times.
  • Public libraries offered 200,000 more programs in 2017 than in 2016, up to 5.6 million from 5.4. Over 118 million people attended these programs in 2017, an increase in attendance of 5 million from the prior year. Children and young adult programming make up the majority of all programming in the United States.
  • The number of electronic materials available through public libraries, including audio, video and e-books, continued to grow in 2017, with public libraries offering over 463.5 million e-books to their patrons in the United States.
Figure 2-9. Total Programs Offered per 1,000 People by Program Type, FY 2008–17
Figure 2-10. Total Program Attendance per 1,000 People by Program Type, FY 2008–17

Direct to Full Text Report
146 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.