Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Libraries in tough economic times

I think we can all sadly agree that times are tough. But there’s still a place that’s free. It doesn’t cost to check out a book, read a magazine, surf the Web or work on your resume.

It’s the library.

According to the Boston Globe’s Derrick Jackson the Boston Public Library has seen a surge in visitors and activity.

“New library cards are up 32.7 percent from July to November of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007. Visits are up 13 percent, from 1.4 million visits to 1.6 million. Checkouts of books, CDs, and DVDs are up 7.2 percent overall over the last fiscal year. More telling is that checkouts have soared between 27 percent and 37 percent at the Egleston Square, Fields Corner, Jamaica Plain, and Orient Heights branches.”

The library is more than just books these days. Most libraries have tickets to museums, aquariums, etc. You can also take out music, movies and books on tape. My library has access to hundreds of other books and media at other libraries. There’s also a plethora of events geared towards families as well as activities like book club.

Unfortunately, many cities and towns constantly grapple with having enough financing to keep school and town libraries open/ fully functioning. When I was a reporter I saw too often the struggle towns went through to convince citizens that libraries are worth funding.

While many immediately understand the benefits of say police, fire or public works, the intangible benefits of a library can often be hard to understand. I think that libraries pay a crucial role in the community that can’t be underestimated. I’ve outlined a variety of services libraries offer, but most importantly they offer knowledge. There’s thousands of worlds in the library.

To quote a poem:

“Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!”

The library - a recession sanctuary -

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