Story at a glance

  • Young adults, women and people from low-income households visited libraries most often.
  • The average U.S. adult visited the library 10.5 times last year.
  • The widest gaps were found between high and low income households.

More Americans went to public libraries than movie theaters or sporting events in 2019, according to a recent Gallup poll.

The Gallup data showed that visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity that Americans engage in, with the average American adult visiting their library an average of 10.5 times throughout 2019. 

That’s nearly twice as many trips to the library as to the movie theater, which was the second most popular activity, with the average American going to the movies an average of 5.3 times last year, or sporting events, with an average of 4.7 outings. ‘


Gallup found younger people visited libraries more often than older Americans. Those between the ages of 18 and 29 visited libraries and average of 15.5 times, compared to those between the ages of 30 and 49, who averaged 12.3 trips and 50 to 64 year olds who visited an average of 6.8 times. 

Women visited libraries nearly twice as frequently as men. The poll found women made 13.4 trips to the library, a significant difference between men who only made 7.5 visits. 

The poll also found those from high-income households had the tendency to do more activities overall, but were less likely than those from lower-income homes to go to the library.

“The widest gaps between high-and-low-income households are in reports of attending a live sporting event, a live music or theatrical event, a museum, and going to the movie theater- all things often associated with significant ticket prices,” Gallup said in a statement

“Conversely, the library - which is free and offers a variety of services including WiFi - is visited most by adults in low-income households and least by adults in high-income households.” 

The data comes from a Gallup poll from Dec. 2-15, 2019.

Published on Jan 27, 2020