Washington, DC -- Rural and small public libraries in the United States are community anchors, providing critical services and resources to meet a variety of local needs. The IMLS brief, The State of Small and Rural Libraries in the United States, provides the agency’s first targeted analysis of trends for rural and small library services. The report gives an overview of the distribution, service use, fiscal health, and staffing of these important community assets. One of the report’s surprising findings is the sheer number of public libraries that can be classified as either small or rural.
The report finds that 6,098 libraries (77.1 percent of all public libraries) are small libraries and that overall 46 million people (15.4 percent of the population) are served by small libraries. Further, the report finds that city libraries are being outpaced by their rural counterparts in providing access to broadband and e-books.
“This report is a must read for policymakers who are concerned about the health and vitality of rural America,” said Susan H. Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Whether the issue is education, economic development, or access to broadband, small and rural libraries are important communications hubs for people in small towns and rural locations.”