The Boston Globe reports in an article titled "The Library—A Recession Sanctuary” that library usage is surging across the country even as budget cuts are forcing closures and staff cuts.
The article notes:
In Kern County, California, where Diane Duquette has been library director for 22 years, library checkouts were up 19 percent in the last quarter. She told the Bakersfield Californian, "We've never had that kind of increase before. Wow. In my time here, we've maybe had a 1 percent or 2 percent increase in good years."
The Boston Public Library is no different. 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 article details the myriad uses that make libraries relevant in this day and age for job seekers, parents with young children, and as a community gathering place.