The public library is a valuable and popular community resource—in most communities, it is the most visited and used public resource.
Did you know there are more library visits per year than movie tickets sold in the U.S.? In fact, American libraries reported 1.4 billion visits.
More relevant than ever In addition to traditional services, such as books and children’s programs, all libraries offer their communities Internet access and online opportunities, and educational programs such as homework help for teens and financial planning classes for adults. And for many Americans experiencing economic challenges and career needs, the library is more relevant than ever.
Access to information technology The public library’s core mission is to provide free and open access—more and more, that means access to the Internet. Over 70 percent of public libraries—over 80 percent of rural community libraries—report that they are the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities.
Library return on investment to the community Public libraries support both personal and economic development. They can influence job creation and community expansion that supports increased property values and commercial tax revenues, as well as improved quality of life. Studies report that dollars spent on libraries provide solid economic returns to the community.
Usage is up, funding is down While millions of Americans enjoy the library and understand its vital role for individuals and communities, many people aren’t aware of the critical funding issues libraries face. Most library funding comes from local sources and local budgets are decreasing.
Local dollars pay most for libraries Nationwide, the average per capita operating revenue for public libraries is pproximately
$37—of that, over $31 comes from local sources.
Here’s the reality
As Americans look for support during this economic downturn, more and more are turning to local libraries for entertainment, educational opportunities and job searching resources. But while demand increases, most libraries are experiencing shrinking budgets.
• Libraries across the country are cutting hours, staff and even closing locations.
• Most libraries report that they don’t have enough Internet access computers to keep up with demand and waiting lines are commonplace.
• Many libraries are understaffed and are unable to provide the support users need to find and utilize resources to improve their lives.
Note to librarians
I worked my way through college as a student assistant at the library. This was an education itself, partly as an opportunity to learn how libraries work, and partly as an opportunity to discover hundreds of books I never otherwise would have found. As a way of giving something back, I donated a fair number of copies of the 2004 first edition of “The Sun Singer” to public libraries and to the libraries where I worked.
If you are a librarian and would like to include a copy of the new second edition of “The Sun Singer” as part of your on-the-shelves collection, I do have a limited number of copies available for donation. If interested, please contact me via e-mail from your library’s e-mail account to: firstname.lastname@example.org