Economy Impacts Libraries in US

by Lara Killian

4 November 2008

 

When times are tough… hit the library.

In an economic downturn, it totally makes sense that individuals in communities are turning more frequently to the convenient (and FREE!) resources their local public libraries offer.

Trouble is, libraries aren’t immune to economic crises. Libraries around the US are cutting staff, closing branches, and reducing their hours. Last week the American Library Association (ALA) requested an emergency cash stimulus of $100 million from Congress.

The ALA argues that now is the time when it is most important to make sure that everyone has access to the free resources that can help people help themselves.

A news item at the Library Journal website notes:

While public libraries depend heavily on local property taxes to maintain operations, increased foreclosure rates, lower home values, and fewer sales have sharply reduced available funds, forcing libraries to cut services and hours.

Will Congress realize that public libraries are providing job-hunting and financial-information-seeking Americans with important resources in troubled times?  Will US lawmakers come up with the equivalent of 1.4 percent of the massive 700 billion dollar bailout package to help keep these libraries afloat? It might be time to form a backup plan in case your local Internet source gets closed down – how far away is that other branch, again?

 

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