Total circulations at U.S. public libraries are increasing dramatically as Chart 1 shows. This is the major but not only measure of the increase in use of public libraries over the years.

Chart 1

Total Circulations at US Public Libraries

During this period, however, the U.S. population has also been increasing. Perhaps these new people are responsible for the increased circulations we have observed?

No. Total circulations per capita have also gone up over the period. More people are using libraries more.

Table 1 shows the data reporting the increases in circulations, population served, as well as circulations per capita measured in two different ways. The first method is to divide the total circulations by the total population and that is method (1) below. The second method is to take the average of the various state circs per capita. By either measure, circulations per capita are rising.

Total circulations is one measure of several of the amount of use of the public libraries in the U.S. These data confirm anecdotal data on the increasing use of these libraries.

Table 1

Total Library Expenditures at US Public Libraries, FY1992 – FY2007
Year Total Circulations Population Served Circs per capita (1) Circs per capita (2)
1992 1,564,380,576 243,252,828 6.4 6.7
1993 1,595,167,482 246,691,014 6.5 6.7
1994 1,578,458,404 248,615,499 6.3 6.6
1995 1,609,871,741 250,273,781 6.4 6.7
1996 1,642,625,448 252,723,153 6.5 6.7
1997 1,690,203,336 256,026,905 6.6 6.9
1998 1,701,183,676 258,982,791 6.6 6.8
1999 1,693,415,906 262,603,622 6.4 6.7
2000 1,713,966,658 265,985,006 6.4 6.7
2001 1,789,927,072 273,921,496 6.5 6.8
2002 1,897,874,169 277,252,717 6.8 7.1
2003 1,964,999,696 280,368,429 7.0 7.2
2004 2,010,777,017 283,434,546 7.1 7.3
2005 2,062,960,991 286,472,011 7.2 7.5
2006 2,101,533,003 288,693,216 7.3 7.6
2007 2,166,787,450 292,029,495 7.4 7.7