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People still love libraries! They just don't always visit them

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Most Americans find libraries to be vital to their communities – even if they aren't always using them, a new Pew Research Center survey said.

The survey – which talked to 1,601 Americans via telephone – found that a large majority of people (77 percent) believe public libraries provide them with the resources they need.

But when you look at how many people have recently used the library? Just over half of Americans age 16 or older (53 percent) interacted with a public library in the past year, whether it be in person, a website or a mobile app. And 48 percent of adults specifically visited a library or bookmobile during the past year.

Young people (those aged 18 to 29) found libraries especially useful, with 84 percent believing that public libraries had what they needed.

Younger people are also more likely to visit a library: 53 percent of people ages 18 to 29 visited a library in person in the past year, compared to 40 percent of those 65 and older.

The impact of closing a library

Two-thirds of respondents said that the closing of their local library would have a major impact on the community – but only one-third said it would have a major impact on them personally, or on their family.

An interesting demographic difference is that individuals in low-income households or without high school degrees were the least likely to say that a library closing would have a major impact, at 10 and 15 percent respectively.

Other interesting findings include:

  • 19 percent of American adults say they have never visited a public library
  • 64 percent of library users checked out books, compared to only 29 percent that used a computer at a library
  • 69 percent say their local libraries contribute “a lot” to providing a safe place for people to spend time.
  • 49 percent believe they contribute “a lot” to sparking creativity among young people.

If you now have an invigorated desire to visit a library, here is a list of all of the public libraries in Minnesota.

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