More Americans Went to the Library than the Movies Last Year… Really

It seems hard to believe, but in 2019 more Americans went to the library than the movies.

“The US film industry may have generated revenues somewhere in the region of $40 billion last year, but it seems Hollywood still has plenty of work to do if it wants to compete with that most hallowed of American institutions: the public library,” writes Dan Sheehan in LitHub.

Source: Dec. 2-15, 2019 Gallup poll

“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far,” writes Justin McCarthy reporting on a recent Gallup poll. “The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list.”

Fascinating … especially if you look at the typical social media feed. You’d think we all live at concerts or Disney World, but the truth is we still love our libraries, and they are an important part of the collective American conscious. They are also one of the last great equalizers in our society.

“The results of the Gallup poll have been broken down in a range of different ways, all of which you can peruse at your leisure, but two of the more interesting (though unsurprising) findings are that women report visiting the library nearly twice as frequently as men do, and that libraries are visited most by adults in low-income households and least by adults in high-income households,” Sheehan continues.

We get it … there is something otherworldly about being surrounded by all those print books, just waiting there for the taking (or borrowing). And it makes all the hoopla over the Oscars and Golden Globes seem just a bit silly by comparison.

Maybe if we had an annual televised award wherein authors could get the same kind of accolades, we might start turning around this crazy world.

If you need me, I’ll be at the library.

Survey Methods noted from the referenced post:
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 2-15, 2019, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.