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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.

ALA Library Fact Sheet 1

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 7,684  
  Total Buildings 16,568  
Academic Libraries     3,094
  Less than four-year 856  
  Four-year and above 2,238  
School Libraries     98,460
  Public Schools 81,200  
  Private Schools 17,100  
  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 4 in Table 3 of Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2016 (April 2018) explains: " Of the 9,057 public libraries in the 50 States and DC, 7,340 were single-outlet libraries and 1,717 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."

** 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 2016 (April 2018)

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 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (August 2013)
  • 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 "Table 421. Selected statistics on school libraries/media centers, by control and level of school: 1999-2000 and 2003-04" from the 2008 Digest of Education Statistics (more recent library media center data for private schools have not been collected because of NCES budget constraints)

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


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