Public Libraries Are Better Than Congress, Baseball, and Apple Pie, Say Americans

Public approval polls reveal the amazing truth!
studioVin/Svetlana Foote

Every so often, a grave and concerned person will ask (as, in fact, the New York Times asked last year): “Do We Still Need Libraries?” Hasn’t the Internet kind of, you know, ended all that? Aren’t libraries falling behind?

Tellingly, the Times could find no one to argue against libraries, and that mirrors American sentiment pretty much exactly. A new Pew study finds that not only do Americans adore libraries, but a majority of us think they’re adjusting to new technology just fine. 

As my colleague Svati Narula reported, some 94 percent of Americans say that having a public library improves a community and that the local library is a “welcoming, friendly place.” 91 percent said they had never had “a negative experience using a public library, either in person or online.”

These sound like incredible approval ratings for any U.S. public institution. So I wondered: Just how incredible are they? How do other icons of Americana compare? 

Using exclusive and highly accurate statistical analysis techniques, I endeavored to find out. Here are the results:

 

That’s right. Public libraries not only rank more highly in the American psyche than Congress, journalists, and President Obama, but they also trump baseball and apple pie. Public libraries are more beloved than apple pie. 

(Data was messily compiled from: Gallupthe Pew Research CenterGallup againHuffington Post/YouGov; and, of course, the Pew.)

Presented by

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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