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A recently-published Gallup poll found that Americans visited the library far more often than any other cultural institution in 2019.

The poll found that the average American visited a library 10.5 times a year. According to the American Library Association, there were 1.4 billion in-person visits to the public library in the U.S. in 2016, the equivalent of about 4 million visits each day.

That more than doubles the average Americas tip to the movies (5), sporting events (5), theatrical or musical performances (4), and trips to the museum (2.5).

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Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Last month, the Chicago Public Library system became the largest in the country to eliminate late fees thanks to Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

While the move, which was implemented October 1, was intended to "remove unfair barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons," it had another positive outcome. Since the removal of overdue fees, along with the elimination of any outstanding charges on people's accounts, libraries across the city saw a surge in the return of overdue books over the last several weeks.

"The amount of books returned has increased by 240 percent…We're very, very happy to have that. … Those books have a value and cost money to buy. We want those assets back. We also want the patron to come back," Library Commissioner Andrea Telli said at a City Council budget hearing, the Chicago-Sun Times reports.

According to a press release from Lightfoot, late fees rarely have the impact they're intended to. "Research from other fine-free systems has indicated that fines do not increase return rates, and further that the cost of collecting and maintaining overdue fees often outweighs the revenue generated by them."

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In case you didn't know, libraries are cool as heck.

They've been around for — well — ever (or at least thousands of years), there are more than 17,000 of them in the U.S., and they serve a myriad of purposes beyond just access to an unlimited number of free books (which, let's be honest, is pretty great in itself). Nearly all libraries offer access to computers and Wi-Fi, and many serve double as venues for community events. Best yet, libraries can help people develop the tools they need to combat the spread of false stories on the internet and identify reputable sources of information.

Don't worry! No books were harmed in the making of this photo. Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.

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Old libraries are pretty dope.

Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. Photo from Benoit Doppagne/AFP/Getty Images.

For bibliophiles like me, walking through an old library feels like walking through a cathedral. The way the light filters through the windows, the sound of hushed conversations, the slightly rough feeling of a leather-bound book sliding out of a shelf ... old libraries even have their own smell.

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