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Libraries are a significant component of the humanities infrastructure. While some scientific knowledge can become quickly outdated, much humanistic knowledge does not, and with their holdings of decades’—and in some cases centuries’—worth of literature, scholarship, and archival materials, public libraries are a primary means through which a humanistic heritage is transmitted from generation to generation. Unfortunately, existing data do not permit an examination of humanities materials specifically, so the figures provided here describe library materials on all subjects.

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* Print materials include print books and serial backfiles. Values presented are for the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Calculations were performed on all surveyed libraries, not just those meeting Institute of Museum and Library Sciences criteria for public libraries. 

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Public Libraries Survey (1995–2005); Institute for Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries in the United States Survey (2006–2014).

 

The per capita values included in this graph are based on the total unduplicated population of libraries’ legal service areas, as reported by libraries themselves. A library’s legal service area is the geographical area that by state or local statute a library is mandated to serve. “Unduplicated” refers to the fact that the population figures have been adjusted to compensate for overlapping service areas. To simply sum the populations of all service areas within a state would be to double count those people residing in areas served by more than one library.

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* Values presented are for the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Except in the case of electronic books, calculations were performed on all surveyed libraries, not just those meeting Institute of Museum and Library Sciences criteria for public libraries. Nonprint holdings include both physical holdings and downloadables.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Public Libraries Survey (1995–2005); Institute for Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries in the United States Survey (2006–2014).

The per capita values included in this graph are based on the total unduplicated population of libraries’ legal service areas, as reported by libraries themselves. A library’s legal service area is the geographical area that by state or local statute a library is mandated to serve. “Unduplicated” refers to the fact that the population figures have been adjusted to compensate for overlapping service areas. To simply sum the populations of all service areas within a state would be to double count those people residing in areas served by more than one library.

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