Okay, so my post title is more of wishful thinking than a reflection of the results of this study, but the news is optimistic nonetheless! If you haven’t heard, let me have the joy of telling you that libraries are not dead!
A recent Gallup poll showed that people went to the library about twice as much as they went to the movies. Library visits also outpaced attendance at:
- sporting events
- live music concerts
- theatre productions
Who’s spending all their time at the library?
The groups that hit most highly at the library were often what you would most likely expect. Families with children were high on the list, likely due to the bounty of resources and events that can be found at libraries. Lower-income households were also on the list, which again makes sense as there is access to resources they may not have at home (internet access, textbooks, language learning guides, etc).
One interesting identifier that came out of this was that women went to the library about twice as much as men did. I’d need more information to make a really solid statement about what that says, but it does topically reflect my life. Most of my friends who read are female. I know very few men who read consistently. I’m honestly not sure why, and it makes no sense to me that there would be such a large discrepancy.
Some necessary caveats
Now, okay, maybe we also have to consider that going to the library does by nature constitute a bit of a round trip process. Meaning: if you check something out, you have to go back to return it. That might inherently play into the results here. Personally, though, I’m never walking out of a library without something new coming home.
And, back to my post title… libraries often have movies, too. 😅 So the more likely conclusion here is that public places that are free are scant. When you add in the wide value that libraries usually provide, it’s hard to think of many places that compare. My main library even has a cafe and a live recorded news podcast (I think it’s local NPR or WGBH?) that is absolutely delightful to sit by and listen to. Really, I can’t think of any place I enjoy more or that has more to offer me. And there’s no requirement or pressure to spend any money. How could that get better?
Plus some fun stuff
Don’t forget that not all libraries are trapped in buildings. Have you heard of the amazing floating libraries in Laos?
Alternate post titles that would have been equally as half-accurate:
- People are poorer than ever
- The last refuge of free public space stands strong
- Confirmed: people prefer free over paid entertainment
- Literature is for women
I’d be interested in seeing a look at how movies adapted from books perform in comparison to original content movies. There are a lot of variables that would likely make it hard to get any viable data from it, but even a rough comparison would be fascinating. Do you think movies based on books get more or fewer people than standard movies?
PS – the day after I moved to a new city, I found the library and got my library card. Before most other responsibilities, because that took precedence. No regrets!