Even though people love to rag on screen-obsessed millennials and Gen Zs, a new study shows that Americans are still visiting libraries more than they go to the movies.
A new Gallup study published on Friday reveals that U.S. adults take an average of 10.5 trips to libraries annually, compared to 5.3 trips a year to movie theaters. The gap was even wider when library visits were compared to other, less popular excursions, like live sporting events, live theatrical performances, and trips to national or historical parks, museums, casinos, theme parks and zoos.
The survey — which was conducted in December and included 1,025 adults from all over the country — also reveals that women (who visit libraries nearly twice as much as men), young adults, and people from low-income households are the most frequent library visitors.
“Despite the proliferation of digital-based activities over the past two decades — including digital books, podcasts, streaming entertainment services and advanced gaming — libraries have endured as a place Americans visit nearly monthly on average,” the report explains.
While libraries will always be the home of bibliophiles, others are drawn there for free and important resources like internet access, a range of classes, informational resources, DVD movies, and activities for kids, per the report.
The American Library Association’s 2019 State of America’s Libraries Report goes even further by explaining that libraries are some of the only spaces that are “truly accessible and inclusive for all,” with staffers providing programming and information for marginalized community members. (However, libraries across the country continue to contend with “repressive pushback” from various groups, according to the report.)
All of the support and access to resources results in a better community. Americans are happier in states that spend more money on public spaces, including libraries, according to a recent study by Baylor University that was published by Social Science Research.
“Public goods are things you can’t exclude people from using — and one person using them doesn’t stop another from doing so,” Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., associate professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, told Science Daily about the study. “They’re typically not profitable to produce in the private market, so if the government doesn’t provide them, they will either be under-provided or not at all.”
He explains that parks and libraries provide spaces for communities to gather, and explains, “One clear finding of happiness studies is that people who are more socially connected tend to be happier.”
Besides happiness, researchers have found that the use of libraries can also lead to academic success for students.
So, catch a bus or take walk to your nearest library. They’ll welcome you… for free.