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Chicago Public Library: By The Numbers

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 7, 2010 6:40PM

"Harold Washington Library" by philipyk
When Fox Chicago ran a story questioning the necessity of Chicago Public Libraries, CPL Commissioner Mary Dempsey came back with a heated retort. In her letter to reporter Anna Davlantes, Dempsey pointed out that the Chicago Public Library system serves 12 million visitors per year, checked out nearly 10 million items last year and provided 3.8 million free one-hour Internet sessions. We asked CPL to share some more fun facts, most of which come from the 2009 annual report, which is available on the CPL website. All of these numbers reflect CPL activity as of December 31, 2009.

  • There are 1,818,551 million active CPL card holders.
  • There are 1,233 CPL employees.
  • CPL has 74 buildings.
  • CPL circulated 9,983,590 (up from 9,767,493 in 2008).
  • CPL maintains 2,800 public access computers.
  • CPL WiFi has 34,000 monthly users.
  • 60 percent of people using a CPL computer are doing so for job searching activities.
  • 33 percent of Chicago residents have used CPL Internet.
  • CPL engages in reciprocal borrowing of library material with 192 other Illinois communities.
  • The total 2009 budget of CPL was $120 million, which is used to pay salaries, maintain and operate buildings, update collections, provide free WiFi, operate a Talking Book Center for the visually impaired and provide free passes to Chicago museums and cultural institutions.

The report also includes “One Day in the Life of the Chicago Public Library,” which reflects activity on February 10, 2009:

  • 36,318 people passed through the doors of the Chicago Public Library
  • 9,406 one-hour Internet sessions were used
  • Librarians answered 5,289 reference questions
  • 19,730 items were circulated
  • 4,010,241 hits occurred on the Library’s website
  • 5,163 online databases were used