FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IMLS 2010 Public Library Survey Results Announced
Libraries doing more with less – Local government taking larger funding role
Washington, DC—Public libraries served 297.6 million people throughout the United States, a number that is equivalent to 96.4 percent of the total U.S. population, according to new research by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In 2010, there were 8,951 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with 17,078 public library branches and bookmobiles.
IMLS today released the 2010 Public Libraries in the United States Survey, an analysis of the most comprehensive annual data collection of U.S. public library statistics. Nationally, public libraries have seen reductions in operating revenue, service hours, and staffing. Numbers for circulation, program attendance, and computer use continue to trend upward.
This is the first federal statistical report on public libraries to go beyond a national level analysis to report on trends at the local, regional, and state levels. The report identifies indicators in three areas: services and operations, resources, and workforce. To provide a more complete picture of library service in the U.S., the report provides a snapshot for each state, describing characteristics of library service.
"Public libraries in America continue as strong anchors for their communities, valued by the people they serve and striving to meet the changing needs of their service populations," said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. "The survey reports decreasing levels of state and federal funding for public libraries, with local support providing a greater portion of funding than ever before."
"Trends to watch," continued Hildreth, "include public libraries increasing the number of non-print materials in their collections; offering more access to computers and computer resources; providing more public programs; and diversifying collections, including increasing numbers of e-books."
"Public libraries continue to be an essential service for the nation’s children. The study finds that attendance at children’s programs reached 60.50 million and circulation of children’s materials increased 28.3 percent over the last ten years."
Highlights from the Report
Public Library Services and Operations
- Public libraries offered 3.75 million programs to the public in FY 2010, which amounts to an average of at least one program a day for every library system in the country. The majority of these programs (61.5%) are designed for children. Attendance at programs has continued to rise, indicating an increased demand for these services.
- Public libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials in FY 2010, the highest circulation in 10 years, representing a continued increasing trend. Circulation of children’s materials has increased by 28.3 percent in the last 10 years and comprises over one-third of all materials circulated in public libraries.
- The composition of public library collections has changed dramatically in recent years. While books in print continue to dominate the physical portion of the collection, making up 87.1 percent of the total in FY 2010, the share of non-print materials, including audio and video materials and electronic books, has increased. The number of e-books has tripled since FY 2003. In FY 2010, there were 18.50 million e-books available for circulation.
- Public access computer use continued to be one of the fastest growing services in public libraries. In FY 2010, public libraries reported a computer use rate of more than one use for every five visits to the library. Public libraries have responded to demand by increasing access, doubling the number of public computers in the past 10 years.
- Physical visits to libraries decreased 1.1 percent in 2010. (Note: the survey does not collect data on online visits or transactions of public libraries.) Physical visits remain strong with an overall 10-year increase of 32.7 percent from FY 2001-FY 2010. On average, Americans visited a public library 5.3 times per year, a ten-year increase of 21.7 percent.
Public Library Resources
- Public libraries had $11.3 billion in revenue in FY 2010, a decrease of 3.5 percent from FY 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Although local governments have generally been the largest source of revenue for public libraries, they have had to take on an even larger role as state support declined over 10 years.
- Public libraries reported operating expenditures of $10.77 billion dollars in FY 2010, the first decrease since FY 2001. Although expenditures across all U.S. public libraries were $36.18 per capita, per-capita expenditures varied greatly by state, with spending as low as $15.99 and as high as $67.78.
Public Library Workforce
- The recession has had an impact on the public library workforce, which has decreased by 6,385 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff since FY 2008, a decrease of 3.9 percent. Staff-related expenditures were $7.21 billion, 67.0 percent of public library expenses in FY 2010.
- Librarians made up one-third of all library staff. Although the majority of these librarians hold a Master’s degree in Library Science from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA-MLS), only half of all libraries reported having a librarian with an ALA-MLS on staff.
A copy of the FY 2010 Public Library Survey can be accessed online at: http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_us_fy_2010_report.aspx .
Researchers may also access the collected data online at: http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_united_states_survey.aspx .
Link to blog post by IMLS Director Susan Hildreth.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.