Looking for an interesting statistic to share with your friends? Public libraries in America outnumber one of the nation’s largest fast food conglomerates, McDonald’s.
Talk about food for thought. In an age where you can download 50 Shades of Grey to your Kindle, stream Hi-Def movies on the go, and blast 140 characters (or less) to your followers via Twitter, it’s comforting to know the land of the free and the home of the brave houses more public libraries (17,000 and counting) than it does locations of the golden arches (a paltry 14,000 by comparison).
So what does 17,000 libraries, spread across the U.S., look like? Justin Grimes, a statistician at the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has painstakingly detailed all the locations of libraries that reside in the United States. Just look at that map (below). Looks like a swarm of bees protecting their hive, doesn’t it? Every single blue dot represents a public library of some sort. Even more impressive, libraries reach more than 96% of the U.S. population. Technically you can live in some of the most desolate places within the U.S., and still have access to a library–just not a McDonald’s.
Perhaps the news doesn’t come as such a surprise for most Americans. After all, according to Libraries for Real Life over 65% of Americans have a library card. Big deal, right? However, those library cards aren’t merely sitting around collecting dust. “Americans check out more than 2 billion items each year from their public libraries,” according to Libraries for Real Life. Most of those people are frequent visitors too, borrowing “more than seven books a year.” Take that Hollywood!
With more books than ever to choose from, libraries are a pivotal source for knowledge. But did you know libraries are constantly evolving, and adapting more and more to the digital age. Imagine for a moment that find yourself in a pinch, and need to access the web for a writing assignment, or to finalize a resume, or you simply want to read about Kim Kardashian’s latest celebrity gossip (why?) The good news is practically every library provides access to a computer. According to ALA.org, “Public libraries are the number one point of access for people without internet connections at home, school, or work.”
We hope you utilize your public library as much as we do ours. In fact, here at Demand Media we have a small library of our own (non-public). It currently has about 200+ books.