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Library Statistics and Figures: Number of Libraries in the United States

A collection of often requested numeric information about libraries in the U.S.

Number of libraries in the United States

There are an estimated 123,627 libraries of all kinds in the United States today.

No single annual survey provides statistics on all types of libraries.

Number of Libraries in the United States
Public Libraries (administrative units)     17,278
  Central Buildings* 8,884  
  Branch Buildings 7,723  
  Total Buildings 16,607  
  Total Bookmobiles** 671  
Academic Libraries     3,697
School Libraries     105,451
  Public Schools 82,300  
  Private Schools 22,991  
  Bureau of Indian Education-funded Schools 160  
Special Libraries***     4,396
Armed Forces Libraries     225
Government Libraries     801
Total     131,848

* The number of central buildings is different from the number of public libraries because some public library systems have no central building and some have more than one. Footnote 3 in Table 3 of Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2019 explains: " Of the 9,057 public libraries in the 50 States and DC, 7,330 were single-outlet libraries and 1,727 were multiple-outlet libraries. Single-outlet libraries are a central library, bookmobile, or books-by-mail-only outlet. Multiple-outlet libraries have two or more direct service outlets, including some combination of one central library, branch(es), bookmobile(s), and/or books-by-mail-only outlets."

** Per footnote 1 in Table 3A of Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2019: A bookmobile is a traveling public branch library.  It consists of at least one of the following: (1) A truck or van that carries an organized collection of library materials; (2) paid staff; and (3) regularly scheduled hours (bookmobile stops) for being open to the public.

*** Special libraries include Corporate, Law, Medical, Religious, Research, Tribal, and other libraries not strictly classified in the other library types listed above.

Figures for public libraries come from the supplementary tables of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2019 (April 2021)

Figures for academic libraries come from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Academic Library Survey, 2018-2019

Figures for school libraries come from various surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):‚Äč

Figures for special libraries, armed forces libraries, and government libraries come from the American Library Directory, 2022-2023 (75th edition).

Library Statistics from Other Countries

Links to Sources for Statistics