Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Main site homepage

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 116,867 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)     9,057
  Central Buildings* 8,884  
  Branch Buildings 7,723  
  Total Buildings 16,607  
  Total Bookmobiles** 671  
Academic Libraries     3,094
  Less than four-year 856  
  Four-year and above 2,238  
School Libraries     99,076
  Public Schools 82,300  
  Private Schools 16,616  
  BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) 160  
Special Libraries***     5,150
Armed Forces Libraries     239
Government Libraries     867
Total     116,867

* 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 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, Medical, Law, Religious, etc.

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, 2014-2015

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

  • The number of school libraries in public schools comes from Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results from the 2015-16 Schools and Staffing Survey (August 2017)
  • The number of school libraries in BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) schools comes from Characteristics of Public and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (June 2009)
  • The number of school libraries in private schools comes from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS): Public-Use Data for School Year 2017-2018

Figures for special libraries, armed forces libraries, and government libraries come from the American Library Directory 2017-2018.

Library Statistics from Other Countries

Links to Sources for Statistics