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The Nation's Largest Public Libraries: Home

This fact sheet lists the top 25 public libraries in the United States by four specific statistical measures; namely, by size of population served, by the size of the library collection, by the number of times items in the collection were checked out, and

ALA Fact Sheet 13

This libguide lists the top 25 public libraries in the United States by four specific statistical measures; namely, by size of population served, by the size of the library collection, by the number of times items in the collection were checked out, and number of visits to the library.

These public library statistics come from the Public Libraries in the United States Survey of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) provides statistics on the status of public libraries in the United States. The data are collected from approximately 9,000 public libraries with approximately 17,000 individual public library outlets in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and outlying territories.

Specifically, all four tables were created with the PLS Fiscal Year 2014 data.

Top 25 public libraries by size of population served with total collection expenditures

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2014

For Population of the Legal Service Area, the PLS Fiscal Year 2014 Data Element Definitions state: The number of people in the geographic area for which a public library has been established to offer services and from which (or on behalf of which) the library derives revenue, plus any areas served under contract for which the library is the primary service provider.

Under Collection Expenditures: This includes all operating expenditures from the library budget for all materials in print, microform, electronic, and other formats considered part of the collection, whether purchased, leased, or licensed. Total Collection Expenditures: This is the sum of Print Materials Expenditures, Electronic Materials Expenditures, and Other Materials Expenditures.

PLEASE NOTE: In contrast to the twenty-five public libraries listed below that serve in excess of 1,000,000 people, it's important to keep in mind that these are the anomaly; nearly 80% of the public libraries in the United States serve populations under 25,000 people.

Rank Library Name Population of Legal Service Area Total Collection Expenditures Collection Expenditures per Capita
1 Maricopa County Library District, AZ 4,008,651 $7,011,737 $1.75
2 Los Angeles Public Library, CA 3,904,657 $10,225,135 $2.62
3 New York Public Library, NY 3,439,711 $27,613,521 $8.03
4 County of Los Angeles Public Library, CA 3,358,197 $8,277,855 $2.46
5 Chicago Public Library, IL 2,695,598 $7,500,000 $2.78
6 Brooklyn Public Library, NY 2,504,700 $8,941,591 $3.57
7 Miami-Dade Public Library System, FL 2,252,866 $1,125,134 $0.50
8 Queens Borough Public Library, NY 2,230,722 $4,374,456 $1.96
9 Houston Public Library, TX 2,195,914 $5,107,483 $2.33
10 Harris County Public Library, TX 1,896,701 $2,824,453 $1.49
11 Broward County Libraries Division, FL 1,803,903 $7,328,866 $4.06
12 San Antonio Public Library, TX 1,682,012 $4,279,580 $2.54
13 Orange County Public Libraries, CA 1,571,108 $1,906,313 $1.21
14 Free Library of Philadelphia, PA 1,526,006 $4,975,454 $3.26
15 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV 1,515,619 $7,341,881 $4.84
16 Phoenix Public Library, AZ 1,506,439 $4,764,323 $3.16
17 Hawaii State Public Library System, HI 1,404,054 $3,362,558 $2.39
18 King County Library System, WA 1,400,795 $12,546,460 $8.96
19 Sacramento Public Library, CA 1,380,392 $3,344,415 $2.42
20 San Diego Public Library, CA 1,345,895 $3,739,886 $2.78
21 Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, FL 1,276,410 $5,582,330 $4.37
22 Dallas Public Library, TX 1,257,676 $4,484,794 $3.57
23 San Bernardino Public Library, CA 1,214,591 $1,311,193 $1.08
24 Riverside County Library System, CA 1,213,319 $1,007,447 $0.83
25 Hennepin County Library, MN 1,195,058 $8,192,327 $6.86

Top 25 public libraries by holdings

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2014

For Library Collection, the PLS Fiscal Year 2014 Data Element Definitions state (slightly edited): This section of the survey collects data on selected types of materials. Under this category, report only items the library has acquired as part of the collection, whether purchased, leased, licensed, or donated as gifts.

There are also specific definitions for Print Materials, Electronic Books (E-Books), Audio - physical units, and Video - physical units.

Rank Library Name Print Materials Electronic Books Audio Materials Video Materials Total Collection
1 New York Public Library, NY 22,064,667 1,036,312 744,584 831,369 24,676,932
2 Boston Public Library, MA 8,209,209 50,720 38,704 68,667 8,367,300
3 Detroit Public Library, MI 6,360,700 3,755 130,488 159,489 6,654,432
4 Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County, OH 5,338,970 163,148 468,867 571,024 6,542,009
5 Los Angeles Public Library, CA 5,600,825 84,894 236,396 358,806 6,280,921
6 Chicago Public Library, IL 5,540,159 27,403 83,777 442,851 6,094,190
7 Queens Borough Public Library, NY 5,256,674 36,665 113,592 487,394 5,894,325
8 County Of Los Angeles Public Library, CA 4,822,257 33,344 306,393 653,950 5,815,944
9 San Diego Public Library, CA 4,914,402 75,432 206,741 267,902 5,464,477
10 Hennepin County Library, MN 4,243,415 178,129 189,455 96,819 4,707,818
11 Dallas Public Library, TX 4,141,349 20,027 141,343 171,946 4,474,665
12 Allen County Public Library, IN 3,585,543 157,556 197,300 203,764 4,144,163
13 King County Library System, WA 3,164,510 38,979 342,834 309,791 3,856,114
14 Miami-Dade Public Library System, FL 3,503,104 16,054 77,386 206,580 3,803,124
15 Hawaii State Public Library System, HI 3,313,134 22,966 232,174 155,949 3,724,223
16 Cleveland Public Library, OH 3,242,251 124,395 143,297 189,481 3,699,424
17 Broward County Libraries Division, FL 2,593,609 66,689 304,265 464,561 3,429,124
18 Brooklyn Public Library, NY 2,979,810 99,738 35,540 249,408 3,364,496
19 Mid-Continent Public Library, MO 2,622,911 80,017 227,257 197,492 3,127,677
20 San Francisco Public Library. CA 2,651,003 83,357 116,631 242,266 3,093,257
21 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV 2,279,973 95,536 270,777 421,848 3,068,134
22 Free Library Of Philadelphia, PA 2,588,082 100,943 135,617 210,505 3,035,147
23 City Of St. Louis Municipal Library District, MO 2,738,658 9,387 86,581 43,588 2,878,214
24 Montgomery County Public Libraries, MD 2,323,007 78,385 166,289 183,499 2,751,180
25 Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH 1,583,750 350,102 295,803 510,165 2,739,820

Top 25 public libraries by circulation

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2014

For Total Circulation, the PLS Fiscal Year 2014 Data Element Definitions state: The total annual circulation of all library materials of all types, including renewals.

Rank Library Name Total Circulation
1 New York Public Library, NY 24,101,745
2 King County Library System, WA 20,894,358
3 Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH 19,427,446
4 Multnomah County Library, OR 19,202,683
5 Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County, OH 18,249,132
6 Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH 17,048,883
7 Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, IN 15,956,220
8 Hennepin County Library, MN 15,807,957
9 Brooklyn Public Library, NY 15,730,736
10 Salt Lake County Library System, UT 15,545,217
11 Los Angeles Public Library, CA 15,086,605
12 Saint Louis County Library, MO 14,975,700
13 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV 14,868,023
14 Queens Borough Public Library, NY 14,570,348
15 County Of Los Angeles Public Library, CA 14,115,156
16 Orange County Library District, FL 13,769,726
17 Fairfax County Public Library, VA 12,881,013
18 Allen County Public Library, IN 12,443,146
19 Seattle Public Library, WA 11,744,874
20 Wake County Public Libraries, NC 11,366,695
21 Baltimore County Public Library, MD 11,287,133
22 San Diego County Library, CA 10,965,431
23 Central Rappahannock Regional Library, VA 10,891,177
24 San Francisco Public Library, CA 10,848,349
25 Sno-Isle Libraries, WA 10,531,611

Top 25 public libraries by library visits

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2014

For Library Visits, the PLS Fiscal Year 2014 Data Element Definitions state: This is the total number of persons entering the library for whatever purpose during the year.

Rank Library Name Visits Service Area Population Library Visits per Capita
1 New York Public Library, NY 17,729,020 3,439,711 5.15
2 Los Angeles Public Library, CA 14,582,162 3,904,657 3.73
3 Queens Borough Public Library, NY 11,381,198 2,230,722 5.10
4 County Of Los Angeles Public Library, CA 10,982,232 3,358,197 3.27
5 Chicago Public Library, IL 10,374,334 2,695,598 3.85
6 King County Library System, WA 9,975,579 1,400,795 7.12
7 Brooklyn Public Library, NY 8,432,208 2,504,700 3.37
8 Broward County Libraries Division, FL 8,094,870 1,803,903 4.49
9 Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH 7,991,932 616,527 12.96
10 Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County, OH 6,876,376 802,374 8.57
11 San Francisco Public Library, CA 6,762,742 836,620 8.08
12 Seattle Public Library, WA 6,580,463 640,500 10.27
13 Orange County Public Libraries, CA 6,447,330 1,571,108 4.10
14 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV 6,440,020 1,515,619 4.25
15 San Jose Public Library, CA 6,378,979 1,000,536 6.38
16 Palm Beach County Library System, FL 6,186,074 898,888 6.88
17 Saint Louis County Library, MO 6,177,831 859,148 7.19
18 San Diego Public Library, CA 6,170,931 1,345,895 4.59
19 Pima County Public Library, AZ 5,880,468 1,007,162 5.84
20 San Diego County Library, CA 5,721,302 1,081,074 5.29
21 Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH 5,709,340 850,548 6.71
22 Free Library Of Philadelphia, PA 5,663,944 1,526,006 3.71
23 Hennepin County Library, MN 5,568,408 1,195,058 4.66
24 San Antonio Public Library, TX 5,388,369 1,682,012 3.20
25 Miami-Dade Public Library System, FL 5,172,967 2,252,866 2.30

Library Assistant

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David Sievers
Contact:
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50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
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