How Public Libraries Are Solving America’s Reading Problem

forbes_tipped-logoLibraries managed tightening budgets successfully through the last decade. Americans made 5.3 visits per person to public libraries in 2010 according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  This continued a ten-year trend that saw library visits increase by over twenty percent.  Libraries also lent 2.46 billion materials in the same year: more than 8 lends for every American.  Finally, libraries increased in relevance as centers for book discovery.  Last year, 2.9% of frequent readers said they’d discovered their last book at a library, a big jump from 1.8% in 2010 (data also from the Codex Group).

According to the Pew Research Center, libraries remain the most trusted institution in the United States, ahead of the military, small businesses, the police or religious institutions.  A staggering 91% of Americans say that libraries are important to their community.

In fact, in an era characterized by mistrust and dysfunction in government, libraries became laboratories of democracy.  They bridged the digital divide with free Wi-Fi access and technology classes.  They stimulated entrepreneurship with maker classes and 3D printing.  They brought communities together with flexible meeting space for local groups.

But something was still missing.

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