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Libraries = Strong Communities

April 8, 2019

Graphic from the American Library Association promoting National Library Week, April 7-13, 2019. The theme is Libraries equals strong communities.

Minnesotans love their libraries for the useful information they make available, the public spaces they provide, and the potential that the libraries offer individuals to make sense of their world and improve their lives. Public libraries are open to all; this inclusiveness makes our libraries powerful.

National Library Week, April 7-13, 2019, is a time to celebrate the contributions of Minnesota’s libraries. This year’s theme, Libraries = Strong Communities, is aimed at highlighting the value of libraries.

Learn more about libraries and communities below, based on 2017 statistics:

Libraries

  • Libraries are embedded in local communities, have a public service orientation, and are viewed as community assets.
  • There’s a public library in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
  • Almost half of Minnesota’s public libraries are small, serving populations less than 5,000.

Librarians

  • Librarians answered 3.4 million questions in-person, by phone or online chat, offering professional information services, technology help, advice about books to read, and referrals to other community experts. Librarians remain reliable sources for accurate information and trusted resources.
  • Even when people have access to internet at home or work, they seek help and searching assistance from librarians.

Visitors

  • There are nearly four million registered public library users. Seventy percent (seven out of 10) of Minnesotans has a public library card. Card holders visit their libraries to borrow materials, use public computers, ask librarians for help and attend informational and recreational programs.
  • Public libraries welcomed more than 23 million visitors. Loans and downloads of books, magazines, music, movies and other library materials remain the most popular public library service.
  • Library visitors logged almost 11 million internet sessions, using 6,702 internet computers and free wireless connections at their local libraries.
  • Users borrowed or downloaded 49 million library materials.

Community Benefits and Contributions

  • Public libraries are offering more programming and attracting diverse audiences of all ages. Libraries sponsored almost 70,000 library programs that attracted 1.6 million people. Libraries have hosted programs such as book clubs, author visits, story times and computer classes for years. Recently, libraries have raised the bar with workshops and training on starting a business, basic job skills, English-language learning, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for kids. Some libraries also organize bigger events, such as comic-cons, “Community Reads” and literary festivals.
  • Libraries are considered welcoming spaces for diverse groups and organizations to meet. Public libraries hosted more than 74,000 community events and public meetings.
  • Minnesota’s public libraries engage with their communities in order to deliver library services where needed. Most public libraries provide services to students at schools, early childhood organizations, child-care centers, seniors at residential facilities, and individuals with disabilities in their homes. More than a third provide services to other organizations such as cultural groups, workforce development centers, correctional programs, youth development groups, adult continuing education programs and literacy organizations.
  • Libraries also partner with other community organizations to address community needs. As partners, library staff members join community organizations to address homelessness, immigration, poverty, racial equity, public safety, economic development, public health, and environmental sustainability.
  • Communities support their libraries through volunteering, advocacy and financial assistance. Volunteers contributed 225,173 hours to public libraries—the equivalent of over 5,600 full-time staff.
  • There are 222 Friends of the Library groups that support their community libraries through financial contributions for special projects, volunteering and advocacy.
  • There are 41 library foundations that provide a stable source of income to their local libraries.

During National Library Week, Minnesota will be joining libraries nationwide in celebrating the many ways libraries strengthen their communities through the transformative services, programs and expertise they offer. We hope you join the celebration by visiting your library to see what’s new.