September is Library Card Sign-Up month. For decades, Americans have relied on libraries to help them increase their knowledge and explore the world of books. In recent years, the number of library books checked out has declined, but this hasn’t stopped libraries from remaining a community hub for learning. 

According to the latest figures from Statista, there are over 9,000 public libraries in the U.S., all of which offer a wide variety of resources and services to the communities they serve. Additionally, there are more than 125,000 librarians across the country.

Most libraries are supported by public funding, with 80 percent coming from local governments, grant programs and donations. As library services expand, per capita operating expenditures have increased more than 30 percent between 1995 and 2019.  

These expenditures vary by region, with areas like New York spending more than four times as much on libraries per head as the state of Mississippi. Additionally, New York has more libraries than any other state. 

According to WordsRated, U.S. public libraries recorded more than 2 billion loans in each of the previous 16 years, peaking in 2010. 

Though the number of users may be on the decline, the types of services offered by libraries have expanded. In 2019, there were around 392 in-person visits to public libraries per 100 people in the U.S. In the same year, there were around 686 circulated library items per 100 people. 

In-person visitation peaked in 2009 with around 535 visits per 100 people, while the number of circulated items peaked in 2010 with 826 circulated items per 100 people. While the number of traditional materials is on the decline, digital materials remain in demand, with electronic collections of material growing by more than 3,000 percent between 2010 and 2019.

Libraries are adding additional services such as the loaning of household items, meeting spaces and community spaces to meet the needs of communities. Libraries across the country are increasingly offering diverse kinds of programs for all ages, such as story-time sessions for toddlers, after-school programs for teens, and computer classes for adults and seniors.