Tag Archives: National Library Workers Day

Celebrating National Library Week

12 Apr

Americans continue to turn to their local libraries for help a wide variety of information services as we celebrate National Library Week, April 10 – 16, 2011.

Americans visited their libraries nearly 1.5 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year. Library users continue to turn to their libraries for use of computers, free wireless Internet access and e-books, personal finance tools, information for job searches and small business opportunities and, of course, the knowledge and experience of librarians. Nearly two out of every three Americans own a library card.

Public libraries tended to experience slightly greater output in all measures last year, reversing last year’s slight dip. A survey of 1,105 libraries ranging in size from serving 125 to serving more than 3.5 million people in their service areas revealed the following information:

  • These libraries served 87.8 million registered patrons in 2009, 53.8 percent of a total legal service area population of 163.3 million in the United States and Canada.
  • On average they circulated items 1,548,590 times, performed 216,872 reference transactions, provided programs to 47,694 patrons, and provided 16,656 materials to other libraries, while receiving 16,875 materials from other libraries annually.

Local public libraries continue to play a vital role in communities nationwide as unemployment rates hover near 9 percent –– or higher, in many areas –– and people look for ways to make ends meet. More than two-thirds of adults responding to a January 2011 Harris Poll Quorum said that the library’s assistance in starting a business or finding a job was important to them. Libraries are helping job seekers, since more businesses – including a majority of America’s leading retailers – require applicants to apply online. Job-seeking resources are among the most in-demand among the technology resources available in U.S. public libraries. These figures were up from a year earlier, testament both to Americans’ entrepreneurial spirit and libraries’ role in nourishing that spirit.

But despite the value they offer, libraries face budget cuts throughout the United States. Nineteen states reported cuts in state funding for public libraries from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011. Of these, more than half indicated that the cuts were greater than 10 percent. As your local decision-makers meet to resolve major budget issues, please speak up for your libraries and ensure that these critical institutions receive the funding they need to serve all citizens.

“Libraries … will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed [citizens], who have been taught to know and prize the rights … given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the regions of ignorance that tyranny reigns.” – Henry Stuber (as part of a biographical sketch of Benjamin Franklin from 1793, often misattributed to Franklin)

Libraries, open to all and free of charge, are our most democratic institutions. For more information, here is the American Library Association’s State of America’s Libraries Report.

Added bonus: April 12 is National Library Workers’ Day. Stop by your local library today and thank the people who keep its services running for you!

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