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“Fast Facts” About Wisconsin Public Libraries

August 12, 2010


  • 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 65 million items were circulated by Wisconsin’s 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.
  • Each year 9 million items are sent from one public library to another to fill request for materials not available locally.  Wisconsin ranks 1st nationally in per capita interlibrary loans.  Purchasing materials to meet user request instead of collection sharing would cost the state’s public libraries in excess of $100 million.
  • Collectively Wisconsin public libraries hold 20 million book volumes, 1.3 million audio item and 1.6 million video items.  Wisconsin ranks 24th in per capita public library collection expenditures.
  • Over the last 5 years public library visits have increased by over 10% and circulation has increased 15%.  The number of paid library staff has increased less than 1%.  In fact paid library staff per capita has decreased 2% and Wisconsin now ranks 21st nationally in that category.
  • In comparison with other states, Wisconsin ranks 8th in per capita in circulation, but 22nd for total operating revenue and 21st for total operating expenditures per capita.
  • For nearly half of Wisconsin’s public library communities, libraries offer the only free access to computers/Internet.
  • All Wisconsin public libraries provide access to jobs databases and other job opportunity resources. Almost 90% offer technology training and over 70% of libraries help users complete online job applications.
  • Over 95% of Wisconsin public libraries offer wireless access to library users. 
  • 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.
  • The average per capita municipal and county property taxes paid by Wisconsin residents for public library service in 2009 was $35.87.
  • 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.
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