A Few Facts About Wyoming’s Public Libraries for National Library Week



Since we’re celebrating National Library Week, we thought we’d offer a few pertinent facts about Wyoming’s fantastic public libraries.

Shoshoni Branch Library, Fremont County.
Shoshoni Branch Library, Fremont County.

On Feb. 16, 1886, the Ninth Territorial Assembly passed what is believed to be the first county library law in the country, “AN ACT to promote the public welfare by encouraging the establishment of free public libraries.” The Laramie County Library was the first library organized under this act later the same year.

Between 1899 and 1917, 16 Carnegie libraries were built in 15 Wyoming counties. Per capita, Wyoming received more money for libraries from Andrew Carnegie than any other state.

Today, Wyoming is served by 23 county library systems through 23 central libraries, 53 branches and 2 bookmobiles. Because services are organized along county lines, every resident of the state has a library available to them. In FY14:

  • Glenrock Branch Library, Converse County
    Glenrock Branch Library, Converse County

    Wyoming’s public libraries saw 3.67 million visitors (6.3 per capita). There are 400,460 registered borrowers (68% of the population has a library card).

  • Public library circulation was 4.9 million – 8.4 items for each of the state’s 582,658 residents. Circulation of children’s materials accounted for 35.2% of total circulation.
  • Wyoming library patrons used the libraries’ 868 public-access computers connected to the Internet 873,817 times (more than 1,000 uses per computer). A University of Washington study showed that nationally, of those using library-provided computers or wireless access, 40% found job help, 37% researched health issues, and 42% received help with educational needs.
  • Wyoming public library collections included nearly 2.86 million book volumes and more than 361,811 audio and video items.
  • Crook County Public Library
    Crook County Public Library

    Electronic materials, such as databases, are increasingly important to Wyoming libraries and patrons with 6.2 million searches in statewide databases and 3.3 million full-text retrievals.

  • Libraries offered 11,361 children’s programs with attendance of 291,431. In 2014, children’s summer reading had 22,312 participants.
  • Wyoming public libraries employed 666 people for 462.91 FTEs, paying out $23.5 million in salaries, wages and benefits. Staffing accounts for nearly 74.1% of public library operating expenditures.
  • The WYLD shared catalog had 1.57 million online searches. More than 100 libraries are part of the WYLD system; this includes every public and community college library, as well as many school and special libraries. Wyoming residents can instantly request items from other libraries from any internet-connected computer using their library card and PIN.

Those kind of numbers are worth celebrating every day of the year, not just during National Library Week! You may find these and more Wyoming library and community statistics at will.state.wy.us/statistics.

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