Friday, July 29, 2011

Griffiths/King: Public libraries are essential to all sectors of society


José-Marie Griffiths/Donald W. King: Public libraries are particularly essential in recessions.  (Providence Journal, 7/27/2011)

Excerpt:   Contrary to the popular myth that public libraries serve primarily the recreational needs of their communities, the overwhelming majority (over 70 percent) of visits to public libraries are for non-recreational purposes. For example:
• Nearly a quarter of adult visits are to address personal or family-related needs, such as help with health and wellness issues, personal finance, how to make or fix something, or to keep current with news or find jobs.
• The proportion of visits that are job-related increased from 3 percent in 2009 to 11 percent in 2010. Most public libraries now provide access to jobs databases, civil-service-exam materials, software to help create résumés, and other employment-related information. They help users complete online job applications and offer helpful classes.
• About one in eight visits is by a small business — and even some large ones — to conduct research and to seek information and support regarding legal, financial and operational concerns. Public libraries have often helped small businesses get started.
• Some one-third of visits are for educational needs — and not just for children doing homework or adults continuing their education. Teachers often use public libraries for their continued education or to keep up with professional literature; they also rely on public libraries to prepare for class or lectures.

Be sure to share your local library success stories with your officials -- local, county, state, and federal -- on an ongoing basis, not just at budget time.

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