Fast Facts About Public Libraries

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


  • Six out of ten state residents are registered library users.
  • These library users made over 35.5 million visits to Wisconsin public libraries in 2009. Season attendance for Brewer home games in 2009 was 3 million.
  • The average number of user visits per week to Wisconsin public libraries is 688,000. Season attendance at Packer home games is about 570,000.
  • Over the last 5 years, public library visits have increased by over 10% and circulation has increased 15%. During the same time, the number of paid library staff has increased less than 1%.


  • Collectively Wisconsin public libraries hold 20 million book volumes, 1.3 million audio items and 1.6 million video items. Wisconsin ranks 24th in per capita public library collection expenditures.
  • Over 65 million items were circulated by Wisconsin public libraries in 2009.
  • Wisconsin ranks 8th in per capita circulation nationally.
  • On average 1.25 million items are checked out of Wisconsin public libraries each week.
  • Approximately one third of these circulations are of children’s materials.


  • Programs provided by public libraries and directed toward children had attendance of over 1.5 million.
  • Summer library program attendance for children and young adults was nearly 500,000.


  • More than 9 million items are sent from one public library to another to fill requests for materials not available locally.
  • Wisconsin ranks 1st n­­ationally in both the total number of and in per capita interlibrary loans.
  • Purchasing materials to meet user requests instead of collection sharing would cost the state’s public libraries in excess of $100 million.


  • Over 95% of Wisconsin public libraries offer wireless access to library users.
  • All Wisconsin public libraries provide access to jobs databases and other job opportunity resources.
  • Almost 90% of Wisconsin public libraries offer technology training and over 70% of libraries help users complete online job applications.
  • Access to licensed databases is provided through all of the state’s public libraries.
  • Over 90% of Wisconsin public libraries­­ provide access to electronic books and
  • downloadable audio books.


  • Average per capita municipal and county property taxes paid by Wisconsin residents for public library service in 2009 was $35.87.



Based on 2009 annual public library report data, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning.


More About Wisconsin's Public Libraries

  • Economic Impact of Public Libraries

    $4.06 is returned to Wisconsin taxpayers for every $1 invested in public libraries. View the complete Economic Impact Study An economic impact research report produced by NorthStar Economics, I…

  • Fast Facts About Public Libraries

    LIBRARY USE Six out of ten state residents are registered library users. These library users made over 35.5 million visits to Wisconsin public libraries in 2009. Season attendance for Brewer home…

  • Profile: Appleton Public Library

    Library Profile It’s the main resource library for the Outagamie-Waupaca Library System (OWLS); it’s deeply involved in local Web initiatives; and it also fulfills the typical duties of local public…

  • Profile: Rhinelander District Library

    Library Profile While 388 public libraries exist in Wisconsin, not every municipality can support a library within its own borders. Sometimes communities join together to share a public library. Such…

  • Research & Links About Public Libraries

    Research & Links About Public Libraries Americans say public libraries are essential A recent study sponsored by Americans for Libraries Council, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun…

The Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries could be one of the most important things the library community has ever done. We live in a knowledge-based economy, where life-long learning is mandatory. Public, academic, special, and school libraries are essential institutions and should not be compromised. Yet these valuable institutions are in danger. We are seeing funding cuts, service and staffing cuts, aging collections, and deteriorating physical infrastructure as a growing challenge that must be addressed. A campaign for library advocacy throughout the state of Wisconsin is sorely needed. Please join our effort to give libraries this much needed voice.

Rick Krumwiede
Wisconsin Library Association Foundation President

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation

Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Logo