Also, the results don't show at all that "more Americans went to the library than to the movies" but rather that Americans went more to the library than to the movies (on average), which is not very surprising given that only one of them is free.
In other words, if 100 Americans went to the movies once, and 1 American went to the library 101 times, the results would still rank libraries higher than movies despite it being obviously not true that "more Americans went to the library than to the movies."
Your page points to this — good luck finding the hyperlink though!
Anyway, defined as “% of population that did the thing at least once”, movies are first, parks second, and libraries third.
Parks have seen a huge uptick in popularity. The other two dropped off (libraries dropped off more than movies).
In terms of median visits per person (probably the better measurement), almost nothing changed.
Concerts went from 1 to 2 visits, libraries went from 3 to 2. I’d guess those are explainable as statistical noise.
It's one of the few places I know of that has plenty for young children to do, is open in all weather, is anywhere close to home, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get into.
I could also imagine someone working remotely having high library utilization.
Most co-working spaces charge $20-$100 per day for a desk.
And of course, plenty of people use them as a place to read books, magazines, and newspapers.
In my opinion, libraries are the single greatest tool an individual has to advance their station in life. I wish more people would take advantage of that opportunity.
Surely the internet beats libraries by a large margin on this.
I lived in such an area. The library itself was great and really did work on expanding internet access (allowing adults to use a laptop, for example) - but it was a small town with a limited budget. It simply couldn't serve the area better.
That's crazy. In California, most libraries are open to all California residents: you can join the San Francisco library even if you live in rural farm parts of California. Great for accessing ebooks.
For example you can read news papers without ads :-) at the Sunnyvale library, the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, the Washington Post, Economist, Etc. And many periodicals. All without sacrificing your privacy or trying to subvert some paywall.
You can read texts on pretty much any subject that were not only written by someone who took time to write it, but were edited and often fact checked by a third party (publisher).
You can read classic stories, and new stories, in all sorts of genres.
You can socialize at the library, ours has a couple of meeting rooms you can reserve as long as you aren't trying to sell something. Some libraries have a coffee shop in them which is pretty cool.
Oh, and you can surf the web if you want but there isn't anything on the Internet that you can't get at the library and the quality of the interaction at the library is always better.
You can check out eBooks too. All offered with no ad-tech nonsense.
Don't all those papers have ads in them?
ADDED: And furthermore, as other comments have observed, most of library visits are dropping in for maybe 5 minutes. If I were only to count the times I spend multiple hours in the library, it would probably be a couple times a year--and that's mostly because a few city libraries are often convenient places to hangout with free WiFi when I have some time between appointments/activities.
I know there are other uses for a library, and I wonder the percentage of trips to the library to take out books vs. other reasons.
First of all I don’t have a great memory of specific things in my day to day life. Ask me today what I had for dinner two days ago I could venture a guess based on what I usually have for dinner, but I couldn’t give you an answer with great confidence.
Anyway, part of what makes it kind of hard to define how much I have been to the library is also because I sometimes pass through the library at the university.
And I have borrowed like one book recently, but I don’t remember if that was within the last year or not.
But actually what I was wanting to say was that, different people might count what constitutes a visit to the library differently. To me, simply passing by to drop off a book does not constitute a visit. Whereas going there to borrow a book counts. And going there to attend some sort of event counts. And going there to browse the shelves for a while counts. And going there to just sit down and work with some of my own stuff on my computer counts.
More than once a week
More than once a month
About once every two months
Once a year
Which is a lot easier to estimate and answer for most people.
For instance my mom would probably just pick the twice a month or weekly answer even though sometimes she’s traveling and wouldn’t be there for a week.
We've also switched to that URL from https://lithub.com/in-2019-more-americans-went-to-the-librar....
I really, really wish attendance at the library was higher than at the theatre. But it's just not what I see happening.
The bigger question is why are people not going to the movies anymore. A few years ago the numbers wouldn't be as close. There is a trend to go out to a movie less and stream more.
For me, it's a combination of alternatives for free time, higher ticket prices, and disgust at the loud-mouthed arrogance of some of the performers. I will actually not go see a movie I might have otherwise seen if the actor speaks down about others who hold opposing ideas about politics or religion.
Of course the infrastructure costs money to maintain, and the people working there are paid.
It mentions this in the write up.
That said, most of the people I know have been to far more movies than they've been to the library (which is exactly 0 times). I know people who have never been to the library in their adult life. The library is an underutilized resource.
This isn't a study in how many people you know.
I know no one who goes to movies or libruaries but this study didn't capture that.
That said, it's wonderful that libraries are still relevant and that many people still find them incredibly useful. The act of going to a library is what's so amazing... you are actively leaving the comfort of your home and leaving all of the distractions to visit a place that transitions your focus to learning. Building that habit/ritual for young people is so important because it will build a foundation for a love of learning.
I work from it M-F to get out of the tiny apartment and away from the kids. The library runs "story times" a couple times a week for the kids. There is a small kid play area that we frequent during winter or rain when we want to kill an hour.
The coolest part is that there is a STEM center with robot, 3d printing, Legos & Julia/Scratch machines. I also work from the "teen" section (because it allows for talking and I have zoom meetings all day) which has: comics, xbox one, and study rooms available.
There are always people tutoring out of the rooms and kids hanging out gaming with switch/xbox fortnite. It's really cool.
Revenue is an entirely different graph, where revenue increased in an exponential curve in the 90s, but around the turn of the century has gone to a very slow linear increase, also about 20% since the turn of the century.
Note that US population went up about 15%, I would assume entirely due to immigration, from 282M to 327M.
Annual average CPI from bls.gov shows 172 in 2000 and 255 in 2019, so figure somewhat above 33% inflation since 2000.
So, since the turn of the century, sale quantities are falling about 40% behind population based estimates, whereas revenue is increasing slightly faster than population but vastly slower than inflation.
It would seem casuals and the general public are no longer going to the movies, its the kind of thing you see in extracting maximum revenue from superfans type of thing. Trying and failing to keep up with inflation by appealing more so to an ever shrinking audience of the most motivated fans.
This would fit in with anecdotal "common sense" reports of the product being very formulaic and ever more narrowly targeted.
In the end, markets with shrinking mindshare and shrinking revenue relative to inflation, are usually doomed. Either things will get shaken up and all the trend lines will change or the entrenched legacy players will eventually financialize themselves out of business sooner or later.
I think part of what is going on here, is that the real movie junkies are watching movies at home, whereas the real book junkies still go to the library. So, both figures may be influenced by the most-frequent users, but in different directions.
I read a lot but switched to ebooks almost entirely 2 years ago
Reading a book a week from a major publisher usually costs more than a month from a digital streaming service. Borrowing books requires some planning ahead since much of what's worth reading has a wait list, assuming that it is even available to libraries. Contrast that to print titles. You may be stuck placing something on hold if you are looking for a particular title, but there is usually something worth reading available.
So that's somewhere between 4-20 dollars a month, and netflix spotify/netflix both are about 15 dollars. So some months my kindle will come out cheaper, sometimes more expensive.
But yeah, sometimes they are as expensive as print-book. Which is silly imo.
Also, libraries are used for a lot of things other than checking out books. Austin's library has boardgames available (I see people playing them there), and a lot of music and movie media.
I'm a cheapo, so I'm always looking for ebook deals. Waiting a couple months to buy a new expensive book I'm interested in (for free) is not a problem for me.
It's successor is the Libby app. It's fantastic. If you're not using the Libby app, you are missing out.
I go there to work or to read (sometimes on my kindle) because of how quiet it is.
If you want to build a library and some official tells you the place would be better used for a movie theater, you have a reference number to argue.
Some people are positing with a straight face that libraries are a thing of the past and the ROI is low now that we have amazon. Explaining libraries are useful is actually not trivial, especially as they don’t directly make money.
Slightly off topic, but equating library with “reading” is not in line with today’s libraries, which represent a lot more than a place to borrow old books.
They upgraded the sound system of every movie theater near me without also upgrading the sound proofing. Now you can't watch a movie without hearing the music and the sound effects of every other movie around you.
Ushers stopped enforcing rules so texting and talking has become normalized. And a lot of people don't go to the movies to watch movies but to hang out with their friends.
Some theaters "upgraded" to narrow seats to fit more people. You now sit shoulder to shoulder and fight over who gets the arm rest.
I don't expect the situation to get better for two reasons:
1. A local movie theater company has a total monopoly so they don't have any competition and thus no need to improve.
2. Teens are the largest movie going demographic and this new normal is to them, normal.
In theory Alamo is strict about talking and use of phone but in reality, quite a bit of it happens anyway. Still, audiences are a bit better behaved and I think it's because they are a bit older.
You get to enjoy the same noises and distractions while drinking wine and reclining on a bigger seat.
- people using their phones during the movie
- people talking during the movie
- $15-20 for popcorn and soda
- droll hollywood plots
- seats too far in the back (unless you can book seats, and did so early enough)
- driving 20-40 minutes to a nice theater and parking
- can't bring in alcohol (unless your local theather allows it)
- no pausing/rewinding
- dwindling sales means higher ticket and concessions
prices, which makes less people go, and repeat
Yeah it's really a shocker that people want to watch movies at home. My home setup is really nice, and, well, it's my home.
However our local theater is $10/ticket. So we've caught some showings for new films like Uncut Gems, or stuff like Studio Ghibli Fest that I actually wanted to see on the big screen.
Also at home I can watch old, cheesy Jackie Chan films from my collection with friends with some beers and laugh our heads off.
I found it impossible to get price data for museums and hard to get verifiable data for music concerts, although those are activities that seem to be explosively more expensive than inflation but are not showing attendance declines.
I'm old enough (gen-x) that when I was a kid, the expensive part of a day at the public museum was going out for ice cream afterwards, the tickets were pretty cheap in 1980 or similar. I considered taking my kids to the public museum over christmas break, but tickets for the whole family would be over $100, so rather than ice cream being more expensive than the museum, it would be cheaper to go to a cheaper chain steakhouse and skip the museum. To some extent I think the "public" museum locally gave up on the public and exist to send ever larger invoices to the local public school districts for field trips so that might be a local issue OR a long term shift in the business model. There's no point in a business and profit sense, in letting the general public in for $5 per head, if the school district doesn't mind getting invoiced $30 per kid for field trips.
Back in the day, watching a move at home meant renting a VHS (or Beta if you chose your VCR poorly) at Blockbuster/Hollywood video/et al., (and after a new movie was released to VHS, it was frequently rented out for a couple of weeks and you had to wait), then plopping it into your VCR and viewing it on your 19" fuzzy CRT with built in speakers.
Now, you just rent/buy the movie you want from your couch, and watch it on your 65" 4K widescreen TV connected to a home theater system.
The movie theater experience, by contrast, hasn't really changed much since I was a kid (1980s) - oh wait, ticket and concession prices have gone way up.
IMO, if I can wait to watch a new movie until it's released on Amazon (and being 40, I'm much more patient than I used to be), I'd much rather do that.
Given the popularity of ebooks and internet, I thought libraries will slowly go down. This is fantastic!
Possibly even for IT classes - especially the older generations
I'm still surprised at the results. I'm in the 30-49 bracket, as is everyone I interact with, and I'd be shocked if someone I knew has been to the library in the past year. They would most likely use the internet for information.
Libraries are a great place to just chill if you just wanna get out of the house and the weather isn't great for parks. It's free, you can stay as long as you want, there's comfortable seating and plenty of reading material (or you can bring your own books, work, or projects), and friendly staff.
There's also workshops, events, meetups, etc.
I went to the library about eight times last year, and in every case I was there solely to use their printer or fax machine (because if you don't work in an office, this is about the only place to access these things; certainly the cheapest). While there, most of the people I observed were either doing the same thing, or were stopping in to briefly browse and check out books or media. These aren't "social activities" unless buying a pack of gum at the corner store is a social activity. A haircut is far more social for me, and I had more of them last year.
My mother takes her great-granddaughter to the library a couple times a month, for various fantastic events the library puts together, which are highly social. They're well-attended, so I have no doubt that there are a decent number of people who do legitimately socialize there, but I wouldn't count most library visits as social events.
Libraries are great. I'm just not sure we should be patting ourselves on the back based on the usage I observe.
Stepping back a bit...A few years ago - after we cut the cord on our (stupidly/unnecessarily expensive) cable tv subscription, but before there were several, decent streaming service offerings - my family and i would borrow DVDs from our local library (including an odd book here or there). It was wonderful! Sure, sometimes a desired movie would be out/booked by someone else for weeks...But there were always other options, plenty of films to see from classics to more recent stuff. Also, it felt nice to support our local library. After a few years of this of course - when more streaming services beyond only netflix became more prevalent - we stopped leveraging our local library. The content of these streaming services became compelling enough, and - provided that you don't over do it with too many services at once - their pricing has been decent enough. So, for me whether it is borrowing media from our library or subscribing to some decent streaming service, it is the fact that i can enjoy all this content from the comfort of my own home AND pause it (for me to take a food break, bathroom break, etc.) however/whenever i wish is what keeps me away from move theaters. (Also, the cost has a little impact...but by far and away, it is the pause button that drives my behavior.)
In this day and age, I'm wondering if i should cancel 1 or 2 streaming services, and go back to supporting our local library...even if only to help prop up a decent institution for our society?
I wonder how peoples’ perception on the state of the economy affects the library vs. going to the movies decision. For many people in my social circle they are doing better than ever financially and for some, worry about high inflation (currently well over 6%, ignoring the big lie also known as CPI) and reduced social security and Medicare benefits in the future.
Libraries are wonderful places to hang out and they are usually free.
Why pay when I can watch for free at the library?
We've only been to one or two movies in the past year. There's enough on Prime, Netflix, and Disney+ to be honest.
I would also compare it to cafes and restaurants, those are also cultural activities. I suspect that then libraries would fall behind.
I often see a cute nerd typing magic code on his macbook dreaming of a billion dollar SaaS business in Starbucks.
Honestly this is such a weird growing expectation. I don't think it's what people want anymore (they did previously) but companies are riling this up, they are making people expect more and care about trivial things to justify their existence and increased pricing. There's simply no single day I don't get by without seeing, care about the experience, it's all about the experience, it's all about how your literal USB cable makes someone feel about themself, etc in startup eco chambers.
Why would you bother when you can get a similar experience at home without the hassle?
Also, locally, most dead malls die when they can no longer afford to maintain the roof, and water is pouring out of the ceiling everywhere until the occupancy permit gets yanked and leases are broken, and flooding is exactly what you don't want for books.
That happened at our local mall back in 2007. It's a bit of a triumph that the mall is still around. The Target on the end is worth more than the rest of the mall combined, I understand (Target owns that space rather than leasing it.)
Good for Americans for breaking stereotypes. Congrats!
I can't say the same about movies.
Seems like apples to oranges essentially.
But in any case, the conclusion in the title of the article is wrong and not supported by the results.
Doesn't surprise me. It is pretty hard to "cat call" someone at a library with the whole silence thing.
I bet you say, "correlation isn't causation" every time someone posts a scientific paper, too. As if no smart person has ever thought of these issues.
> Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 2-15, 2019, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
> Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
>results a single survey
Says the guy who uses "Ask HN" for help...
How many surveys should they do?
People here love to say worthless crap like "oh, of the people who take surveys, blah blah blah". Not considering the fact that people who give the surveys aren't stupid and factor that into their results. Such garbage is pure pedantry and if anything, you should be going after all the know-it-alls on this forum who love to pick useless fights.
Of course the people giving the survey know that there is an inherent bias towards their sample. If they are any good, they correct for it.
Stop wasting your time going after this guy, go after the know-it-all parent.
The issue with the account I was replying to is not that specific comment but a pattern of posting in the flamewar style and, especially, of taking personal swipes. That needs to change. For example, "Says the guy who uses "Ask HN" for help" is not an ok way to argue on HN. Personal attacks are a more existential issue for HN than shallow dismissals are, but the latter are also a big problem, which is why there's a site guideline against those too.
Are you under the impression that anyone is using "Ask HN" to make representative claims about a larger population than "people who answered this thread" (or at best, "people on HN")?
Mix that with youtube, netflix, prime, etc, and you really have little incentive and time to go to the theater.