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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 2016 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: 2016

For Population of the Legal Service Area, the PLS Fiscal Year 2016 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

4,137,076

$6,761,593

$1.63
2 Los Angeles Public Library, CA

4,030,904

$11,874,549

$2.95
3 New York Public Library, NY

3,439,711

$30,641,858

$8.91
4 County of Los Angeles Public Library, CA

3,375,417

$11,093,052

$3.29

5 Chicago Public Library, IL

2,695,598

$7,500,000 $2.78
6 Brooklyn Public Library, NY

2,504,700

$9,025,631

$3.60

7 Houston Public Library, TX

2,296,224

$5,668,713

$2.47

8 Miami-Dade Public Library System, FL

2,290,129

$3,999,620

$1.75

9 Queens Borough Public Library

2,230,722

$5,944,933

$2.67

10 Harris County Public Library, TX

1,998,378

$2,898,545

$1.45

11 Broward County Libraries Division, FL

1,827,367

$7,076,114

$3.87

12 San Antonio Public Library, TX

1,754,711

$4,203,111

$2.40

13 Orange County Public Libraries, CA

1,615,125

$3,280,991

$2.03

14 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV

1,579,317

$7,884,304

$4.99

15 Phoenix Public Library, AZ

1,560,020

$5,853,666

$3.75

16 Free Library of Philadelphia, PA

1,526,006

$5,136,985

$3.37

17 King County Library System, WA

1,442,940

$14,102,461

$9.77

18 Hawaii State Public Library System, HI

1,431,603

$3,828,931

$2.67

19 Sacramento Public Library, CA

1,418,051

$4,580,089

$3.23

20 San Diego Public Library, CA

1,391,676

$3,291,785

$2.37

21 Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, FL

1,387,840

$4,955,349

$3.57

22 Dallas Public Library, TX

1,300,092

$4,603,150

$3.54

23 San Bernardino Public Library, CA

1,257,956

$2,388,079

$1.90

24 Riverside County Library System, CA

1,242,743

$973,323

$0.78

25 Hennepin County Library, MN

1,223,149

$8,750,754

$7.15

Top 25 public libraries by holdings

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2016

For Library Collection, the PLS Fiscal Year 2016 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

21,935,221

1,788,493

826,360

721,149

25,271,223

2 Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County, OH

4,936,677

5,889,477

362,864

532,412

11,721,430

3 Boston Public Library, MA

7,997,591

95,927

35,220

68,272

8,197,010

4 Los Angeles Public Library, CA

5,922,133

171,493

251,557

390,378

6,735,561

5 Chicago Public Library, IL

5,451,914

46,195

263,711

187,431

5,949,251

6 County of Los Angeles Public Library, CA

4,734,248

40,403

301,380

703,812

5,779,843

7 Queens Borough Public Library, NY

4,972,997

85,829

120,658

491,079

5,670,563

8 San Diego Public Library, CA

4,715,696

96,457

197,095

263,531

5,272,779

9 Dallas Public Library, TX

4,563,199

68,076

167,061

357,311

5,155,647

10 Hennepin County Library, MN

4,366,003

253,743

167,667

107,899

4,895,312

11 Dayton Metro Library, OH

871,785

3,670,432

80,361

97,096

4,719,674

12 Detroit Public Library, MI

4,083,856

6,517

129,057

174,763

4,394,193

13 King County Library System, WA

3,091,198

232,684

336,934

307,056

3,967,872

14 Cleveland Public Library, OH

3,219,589

373,194

138,494

215,139

3,946,416

15 Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH

1,551,993

1,376,514

256,771

475,986

3,661,264

16 Brooklyn Public Library, NY

3,175,967

131,448

16,573

336,544

3,660,532

17 Miami-Dade Public Library System, FL

3,160,588

156,845

77,893

230,827

3,626,153

18 Allen County Public Library, IN

3,048,427

220,412

135,970

163,633

3,568,442

19 Hawaii State Public Library System, HI

2,967,198

58,452

209,527

168,400

3,403,577

20 City of St. Louis Municipal Library District, MO

2,894,428

222,614

104,498

59,840

3,281,380

21 Broward County Libraries Division, FL

2,408,899

92,815

278,763

413,868

3,194,345

22 San Francisco Public Library, CA

2,618,747

159,602

96,791

247,119

3,122,259

23 Houston Public Library, TX

2,597,505

217,319

153,707

116,102

3,084,633

24 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV

2,246,053

109,257

222,112

463,597

3,041,019

25 Atlanta Fulton Public Library System, GA

2,619,417

232,772

62,542

36,683

2,951,414

Top 25 public libraries by circulation

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2016

For Total Circulation, the PLS Fiscal Year 2016 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

22,665,133

2 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

21,226,498

3 King County Library System, WA

20,781,944

4 Multnomah County Library, OR

19,200,616

5 Los Angeles Public Library, CA

16,353,158

6 Cuyahoga Public Library, OH

16,234,993

7 Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH

16,094,874

8 Hennepin County Library, MN

15,768,633

9 Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, IN

14,635,388

10 Brooklyn Public Library, NY

14,592,140

11 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV

14,162,393

12 Saint Louis County Library, MO

13,835,817

13 Salt Lake County Library System, UT

13,765,685

14 Allen County Public Library, IN

13,311,490

15 Queens Borough Public Library, NY

13,091,726

16 Orange County Public Library District, NY

12,096,214

17 Fairfax County Public Library, VA

12,042,565

18 San Diego County Library, CA

11,515,560

19 Sno-Isle Libraries, WA

11,262,339

20 Baltimore County Public Library, MD

11,135,985

21 Seattle Public Library, WA

10,842,369

22 Dallas Public Library, TX

10,821,568

23 Phoenix Public Library, AZ

10,705,901

24 San Francisco Public Library, CA

10,677,967

25 Wake County Public Libraries, NC

10,335,691

Top 25 public libraries by library visits

Data from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Fiscal Year: 2016

For Library Visits, the PLS Fiscal Year 2016 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

17,420,607

3,439,711

5.06

2 Los Angeles Public Library, CA

13,504,301

4,030,904

3.35

3 Queens Borough Public Library, NY

11,237,629

2,230,722

5.04

4 County Of Los Angeles Public Library, CA

10,694,275

3,375,417

3.17

5 King County Library System, WA

10,008,534

1,442,940

6.94

6 Chicago Public Library, IL

9,438,150

2,695,598

3.50

7 Brooklyn Public Library, NY

8,633,387

2,504,700

3.45

8 Broward County Libraries Division, FL

7,663,879

1,827,367

4.19

9 San Diego Public Library, CA

6,940,237

1,391,676

4.99

10 San Jose Public Library, CA

6,855,000

1,042,094

6.58

11 Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH

6,779,344

616,527

11.00

12 San Francisco Public Library, CA

6,362,573

866,583

7.34

13 Orange County Public Libraries, CA

6,294,288

1,615,125

3.90

14 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, NV

6,242,633

1,579,317

3.95

15 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

6,176,664

802,374

7.70

16 Free Library of Philadelphia, PA

5,926,481

1,526,006

3.88

17 Seattle Public Library, WA 5,481,047

686,800

7.98

18 Miami-Dade Public Library System

5,462,271

2,290,129

2.39

19 San Diego County Library, CA

5,448,526

1,106,230

4.93

20 Hennepin County Library, MN

5,379,722

1,223,149

4.40

21 Pima County Public Library, AZ

5,370,874

1,013,103

5.30

22 San Antonio Public Library, TX

5,331,930

1,754,711

3.04

23 Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH

5,317,000

850,548

6.25

24 Saint Louis County Library, MO

5,124,202

859,148

5.96

25 Montgomery County Public Libraries, MD

4,888,572

1,016,677

4.81

Library Assistant

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David Sievers
Contact:
ALA Library
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433 x2153