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Rural and Small Libraries are the Foundation of American Libraries

Did you know…

  • Rural and small libraries serve 1 in 4 Americans.
  • There are 16,000 public libraries in the USA, and 4,000 of them are considered “rural library systems.”
  • 1/4 of rural Americans don’t have access to internet greater than 25 Mbps, these communities rely on their library system’s internet connection.
  • Computers with internet were used 23 million times by rural library patrons in 2017, and this goes up every year.
  • In 2017 rural libraries ran nearly 750,000 programs with 12.5 million attendees.
  • Rural libraries typically have a greater role in organizing community events.

Rural Libraries are Critical Pieces in Rural Communities

Rural libraries have struggles which include limited space, budgets, staffing, and many others, but they are one of the most important pieces of a small community. They not only provide books, as we all know, but they also provide internet access to those in these rural communities that don’t have it at home. The library staff is also much more likely to get to know their patrons personally, which makes this relationship in the community that much stronger. Without these libraries, these rural communities would lose a key place to do certain things that those in urban communities can do from home.


(The Public Library in Norway, IA with a population of roughly 500 people, but they serve far more in the surrounding communities.)

They are so much more than a place to get a good book.

Libraries in small communities are more than just a place to get a book. They are often a place the community gathers and meets, where the community votes, where rural areas get internet access, a place for events, and much more. This could also be true in a larger community, but in a rural area this is usually the prime place for these activities, while in a bigger community they are likely to be held in other places. Public Libraries in rural communities are vital for the community, and without them, there may not be a place for such things to take place.


(The Public Library in Eddyville, IA with a population of roughly 1,142 people, Provides a great community indoor and outdoor space.)



Dfree. (2020, September 17). Keeping up with… small and rural libraries. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Retrieved September 2, 2022, from

Stochl, E. (2021, July 26). How do rural libraries serve patrons? BOOK RIOT. Retrieved September 2, 2022, from


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