March 12, 2014


IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services has made available a preview of the Fiscal Year 2011 Public Libraries in the United States Survey. Now in its twenty-fourth year, the Public Library Survey gathers data from more than 98 percent of public libraries across the country.

In FY 2011, there were 8,956 public libraries in the United States, which served 299.9 million people or 95.3 percent of the U.S. population. Additional highlights follow.

Visits and Program Attendance

  • There were 1.53 billion in-person visits to public libraries, the equivalent to more than 4.2 million visits each day (not including virtual visits).
  • Attendance at public library programs increased for the eighth year with 89 million people attending 3.81 million programs.

Books and Collections

  • Public libraries circulated 2.44 billion materials, or 8.1 items circulated per person.
  • While books continue to comprise the majority of the nation’s public library collection holdings, collections are shifting from print books to non-print and digital materials.

Public Access Computers

  • There were 261,413 public access Internet computers available at U.S. public libraries
  • There were 341.5 million usage sessions on public access Internet computers at public libraries.

Financial Health

  • More than $11.4 billion was invested in public libraries.
  • Public libraries spent $10.7 billion in operating expenditures.

A high-level overview of the FY 2011 data, supplementary tables, and information by state are available on IMLS website.

A report of the FY 2011 data and findings will be posted on the research pages of the IMLS website.

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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.