More People Went to the Library Than the Movies in 2019

Bonnie Johnson - Sunday, February 02, 2020
More People Went to the Library Than the Movies in 2019

Gallup completed a poll which ran from December 2 through the 15 in order to update and dust off a poll from back in 2001, to tap into current statistics on the rate in which Americans ‘engage in cultural activity.’

The poll reads, “about how many times in the last year, if any, did you do each of the following?” before detailing out the top leisure activities in the country.

And were very surprised to find that outings to the library outpaced all other areas of leisure that were studied, including going to the movies, live music, live sporting, visiting a national monument or park, gambling/casino activities or the family stand-by of attending a zoo or theme park. By a lot.

The average polled adult visited the local library 10.5x on average, compared to 5.3x of going to the movies, per year. Abigail Cooley, the Everett Public Library Director, concurs. "I did see the study, and our numbers definitely bear up and are relevant," she shared. "Our door count in 2019 was well over 300,000."

Interestingly enough, while all of those ranked areas were largely ranked the same by men and women, women were found to go to the library at twice the rate of men; 13.4x annual visits versus 7.5x.

Across all areas, people aged from 30-49 vastly outpaced other age demographics, which is loosely attributed to relative youth combined with mid-life financial stability.

The youngest group polled, 18 to 29, visited the library the most, which was attributed to accessing education… and oddly enough is also more likely to go to a casino to gamble than any other demographic polled.

Lastly, Americans in high income homes report the most cultural activity or engagement, because (duh) they have more cash flow to spend on it. They’re more likely to attend a sporting event or show because they can, while on the opposite end of the scale, libraries are most frequently visited by low income households and are the least ranked for high income households. If you earn less than $40k per year, you will likely be accessing the local library for Wifi, movies, and children's activities.

"People are accessing all sorts of free services," says Cooley. The EPLS has a plethora of free services, such as play and music groups for children, a treasure trove of local history in the Northwest Room, story times, DVDs and books on tape, to name a few.


Trips to the zoo ranked the lowest across all areas. 

So, next time you visit the library, make sure to high five your reference desk worker, and let's not share the bad news to zookeepers just yet.


Gallup is a research and analytics company based out of Washington D.C.

The Everett Library system has been contacted for further comment at this time.



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