When it comes to getting Americans out of the house, public libraries remain undefeated. According to a Gallup poll conducted in early December, adults averaged 10.5 trips to the library in 2019, compared to just 5.3 movie theater outings. Libraries also outpaced live sporting events, live music or theatrical events, national or historical parks, museums, casinos, amusement parks, and zoos by even greater margins.
As Forbes reports, women are largely responsible for libraries’ dazzling performance in the poll: They averaged 13.4 visits for the year, while men only tallied 7.5. Their numbers were almost even for concerts, zoos, museums, and movies, but men spent about twice as much time as women at casinos, sporting events, and parks.
People with higher incomes participated in more activities overall, which isn’t exactly surprising, since tickets to concerts and sports games don’t come cheap, and even free museums and national parks can end up costing a bunch if you have to travel to get there. Meanwhile, lower-income households frequented libraries significantly more often than wealthier people did: Households that earn less than $40,000 per year averaged 12.2 visits, and those with an income of $100,000 or more went 8.5 times. As Gallup points out in its report, this discrepancy probably isn’t just about free book rentals. Public libraries these days offer a variety of services, programs, and resources, which often include access to computers and free Wi-Fi.
Age also factors into Americans’ library habits. In 2019, people between the ages of 18 and 29 clocked an impressive average of 15.5 visits to the library, about three more than 30-to-49-year-olds and nearly nine more than 50-to-64-year-olds.
But the overwhelming takeaway is clear—regardless of age, gender, or economic status, Americans spent more time at the library in 2019 than any other recreational location. How do the stats compare to time spent binge-watching full series on Netflix, you ask? Well, that’s a question for another poll.