A new Gallup poll finds there is still hope for humanity and libraries!

With the expansion and evolution of the internet, futurists in the early 2000s jumped to the conclusion that the end of libraries was near. Far from that assumption, however, libraries have morphed and thrived over the years because they've consciously made an effort to connect to broader civic agendas. These days, more people in the USA are visiting libraries than going to the movies. In fact, according to a new poll, visiting the library was “by far” the most common cultural activity among Americans in 2019.

A Gallup poll conducted in December 2019 asked Americans across 50 states and the District of Columbia how many times they had engaged in nine different leisure activities over the past year. Based on telephone interviews, the poll includes a sample of 1,025 adults. Going to a library came out as a clear leader, while seeing movies at a theater came in as a distant second. A visit to the zoo came out as the least-visited place.

The poll can be compared to a similar one conducted by Gallup in December 2001. Refuting the theories presented by futurists 20 years ago, the comparison clearly shows that libraries are as popular today as they were at the turn of the millennium. In fact, movie-going has slightly declined. 

Some other interesting insights, according to Justin McCarthy of Gallup, include the fact that women visit libraries nearly twice as frequently as men, the 30-49 age group is the most active across most activities, and those who live in the East report having visited a museum with the greatest frequency.

And here is another fact by the American Library Association that shows there is still hope for humanity: there are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S.—16,766, including all branches.

Changing perceptions of themselves from places of individual enrichment to hubs of community growth, libraries are playing a key role in boosting the local economy, bringing communities together, and offering more than just books. And it is not by accident, but through a well-crafted strategic plan that libraries today have become more relevant than before.

What do you love about your library? Tell us about it in the comments section.