The American Library Association reports that there are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S.-a total of 17,566 including branches. And according to an ABC News story from several years ago, the average American (at that time) spent approximately $1,100 a year in coffee shops. Library users across the country check out an average of eight books per year. Nationally, the cost per person for using the public library is around $37 a year, about the average cost of one hardcover book. (We don’t yet have our local cost available, so this is only an estimate.) So what do patrons get for their contribution?
While traditional books still represent a large portion of the Leavenworth Public Library’s collection, circulation of other materials are increasing:2017 checkouts
- Adult books: 31,975
- Large Print books: 6,504
- Juvenile books: 44,217
- Young adult books: 8,516
- Playaways: 679
- Audiobooks: 10,755
- E-books: 8,334
- Music CD: 4,543
- Streaming Video: 1,946
- Streaming Music: 1,164
Americans go to libraries more than three times as frequently as they go to the movies. In 2017, we had 139,722 total visits to the Library. In addition to space for 7,347 people who attended meetings from outside groups, we provide opportunities for lifelong learning. Last year, we had 647 library programs with total attendance of 13,865. We also offer a summer reading program for all ages, online homework help and research resources.
One of the most important things we do, along with nearly all public libraries across the country, is provide equal access to the online world regardless of who you are, at no charge. Nearly 600 people per month use the Library’s Wi-Fi network and 26,355 used the Library’s computers. An additional 1,755 people checked out laptops.
Coffee shops may have free Wi-Fi, but customers have to pay every time they order something to drink or eat. There are certainly no free refills. The only thing you get to take with you is your cup, a caffeine buzz and a smaller bank account. Patrons can use the library as much as they want for their annual tax contribution. Unlimited book checkouts, movies and music, free Wi-Fi and computer use, access to streaming content, interesting speakers, educational kids programs and much more. You may end up not being able to sleep, but it won’t be due to too much caffeine. It will be because you are reading, listening or watching something you checked out from the Library.