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Library Visits Exceed the Billion Mark Among Registered Users

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Each year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) collects information through a survey about how the nation’s libraries serve the public. Wisconsin public libraries share information with the IMLS so that policymakers, funders, trustees, and librarians can identify trends in the country’s library services. The most recent report, with data from 2016, shows that registered users made 1.35 billion visits to public libraries over the course of the year!

Other public library highlights from the national survey include:

  • More than 171 million registered users recorded, representing over half of the nearly 320 million Americans.
  • Half a million more programs were offered in 2016 than in 2015.
  • 113 million people attended 5.2 million programs.
  • Electronic materials including audio, video, and e-books continued to grow, with public libraries offering over 391 million e-books to their patrons (IMLS 2019a).

Wisconsin-specific statistics, published by the IMLS, show that Wisconsin’s 381 public libraries and 83 additional library branches provided services throughout the state. There was a notable increase in statewide library programming attendance, averaging 23 people per program, with smaller gains in the number of programs offered and the number of collection materials per person (IMLS 2019b).

With so many public library programs and collection materials, including digital content circulation, summer is a great opportunity to check out your local library. Remember that libraries all around the state are currently serving individual community needs for the summer and beyond. There are opportunities for children and adults to experience a wide variety of programs based on local offerings. Reading, story time, robotics, games, crafts, and STEM programming are just a handful of the meaningful experiences available.

An increasing number of libraries also serve as sites for summer meals. For a map of all summer meals sites in the state, visit the DPI Find a Summer Summer Meals Site web page.

For a map of Wisconsin Public Libraries and the public library directory, visit the DPI Wisconsin Library Directories page.

Libraries = Strong Communities. The DPI supports public libraries and regional systems to ensure equitable access to library services while serving as stewards of state and federal funds and sustainers of statutory compliance.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services. 2019a. “In One Year, People Visited Public Libraries More Than a Billion Times.” Accessed June 20, 2019.

——. 2019b. “Wisconsin Public Libraries Fiscal Year 2016.” Accessed June 20, 2019.