Fast Facts About Public Libraries

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  • Six out of ten state residents are registered library users.
  • These library users made over 35.5 million visits to Wisconsin public libraries in 2009. Season attendance for Brewer home games in 2009 was 3 million.
  • The average number of user visits per week to Wisconsin public libraries is 688,000. Season attendance at Packer home games is about 570,000.
  • Over the last 5 years, public library visits have increased by over 10% and circulation has increased 15%. During the same time, the number of paid library staff has increased less than 1%.


  • Collectively Wisconsin public libraries hold 20 million book volumes, 1.3 million audio items and 1.6 million video items. Wisconsin ranks 24th in per capita public library collection expenditures.
  • Over 65 million items were circulated by Wisconsin public libraries in 2009.
  • Wisconsin ranks 8th in per capita circulation nationally.
  • On average 1.25 million items are checked out of Wisconsin public libraries each week.
  • Approximately one third of these circulations are of children’s materials.


  • Programs provided by public libraries and directed toward children had attendance of over 1.5 million.
  • Summer library program attendance for children and young adults was nearly 500,000.


  • More than 9 million items are sent from one public library to another to fill requests for materials not available locally.
  • Wisconsin ranks 1st n­­ationally in both the total number of and in per capita interlibrary loans.
  • Purchasing materials to meet user requests instead of collection sharing would cost the state’s public libraries in excess of $100 million.


  • Over 95% of Wisconsin public libraries offer wireless access to library users.
  • All Wisconsin public libraries provide access to jobs databases and other job opportunity resources.
  • Almost 90% of Wisconsin public libraries offer technology training and over 70% of libraries help users complete online job applications.
  • Access to licensed databases is provided through all of the state’s public libraries.
  • Over 90% of Wisconsin public libraries­­ provide access to electronic books and
  • downloadable audio books.


  • Average per capita municipal and county property taxes paid by Wisconsin residents for public library service in 2009 was $35.87.



Based on 2009 annual public library report data, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning.


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The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation

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