Libraries in the US have long been community fixtures, providing gathering spaces along with public access to books and information.
And at the center of these hubs are your local librarians, juggling reference requests while helping patrons find reliable resources.
In honor of National Library Week, which runs from April 7-13, here are some facts about librarians that might surprise you.
1. They serve more customers than your local movie theater
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, around 1.3 billion people visit public libraries every year, more than the 1.24 billion movie theater admissions in 2017. These readers will probably tell you the book is better than the movie, too.
2. There are more of them than you might think
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 126,800 librarians in the US. New York has the most, with 12,360 librarians.
3. They help spies
Want to work for the Central Intelligence Agency? A library degree (and the ability to pass an intensive background check) might be your ticket in. At the CIA, you can earn up to six figures working in their library.
4. They help preserve your favorite music
The Library of Congress has been preserving recordings in the National Recording Registry since 2002. Latest additions included hip-hop group Run-DMC’s 1986 album “Raising Hell,” Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album “Rumours” and the soundtrack to “The Sound of Music.”
5. Their job prospects are on the rise
Employment of librarians is expected to grow 9% by 2026. Some 12,000 jobs are projected to open as communities look to librarians for a variety of information services.
6. They have left their mark on history
Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, author Lewis Carroll, former first lady Laura Bush and China’s Mao Zedong all worked as librarians or in libraries.
7. They are trusted resources
According to a Pew Research Center poll, 78% of American adults feel that public libraries help them find reliable sources.
8. They sometimes watch over historic artifacts
The New York Public Library contains around 46 million items, though not all of them are books. It houses a 16th-century globe, an original copy of the Bill of Rights and a Honus Wagner baseball card largely considered to be one of the rarest in the world.
9. Working in a library used to be considered too intense for women
At the end of the 19th century, library work was considered to be too overwhelming for women, and in 1900, the Brooklyn Public Library Association proposed building “a seaside rest home for those who had broken down in library service.” Melvil Dewey, who invented the Dewey Decimal System, also believed women would have a hard time working in libraries because of their supposed poor health. Thankfully, these ideas began to disappear around the 1920s.