On Dec. 10, 2008, the NBC Nightly News had a segment about library use and how our business was booming (watch it here). Naturally, being a librarian, I paid some attention to this report since it’s not exactly everyday there are reports on libraries in the news. Right now, more Americans have library cards than at any time since the American Library Association began keeping records. Because of the economic downturn, more and more Americans are depending on libraries for books for their classes and for their leisure time. And it’s not all about books either – library usage is up in the double digits in big cities and in small towns because of DVD’s, children’s programs, free wi-fi and computers available for job hunting or resume writing. More and more Americans are re-discovering their local libraries.
However, even though usage is on the upswing, current state budgets for libraries don’t exactly reflect this. Libraries around the nation are being forced to cut hours, staff, their budgets, and in some cases close branch libraries completely. In Philadelphia, there are plans to shut down 11 of 54 branches. It’s important that in our economic downturn we realize the importance of our library system and how a library can open up a world of possibilities for anyone that might be open to them. Our libraries don’t only offer patrons a way to save money. Qualified staff is there to help with research skills, reader recommendations and information-gathering skills. It’s wonderful that in a time of financial need our libraries are being used more often. But no
matter what the financial crisis may be, realize that libraries and
librarians are there to help as long as there is someone that needs
assistance. As long as school and state budgets keep us alive,
hopefully curious patrons will help us thrive.
post written by Librarian, Geoff Greenberg