ALA releases findings on the State of America’s Libraries

Contact: Macey Morales / Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations
312-280-4393 / 5043
mmorales@ala.org / jpetersen@ala.org

NEWS
For Immediate Release
April 16, 2010

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) just released its annual “State of America’s Libraries Report,” which contains the latest trends about the public’s use and support of America’s libraries.

The report is entitled, ‘Recession drives more Americans to libraries in search of employment resources; but funding lags demand.’ It found that Americans are turning to their libraries in ever larger numbers for access to resources for employment, continuing education and government services.

Since the recession took hold in December 2007, the local library, a traditional source of free access to books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, has become a lifeline, offering technology training and workshops on topics that ranged from résumé-writing to job-interview skills, the report says.
Some of the key findings:

  • An increasing number of Americans feel the public library improves the quality of life in their community
  • As early in the recession as January 2009, more than 25 million Americans reported using their public library more than 20 times in the past year, an increase of 23 percent from 2006—a trend that continued through the rest of the year.
  • A vast majority of public libraries help patrons complete online job applications (67 percent); provide access to job databases and other online resources (88 percent) and civil service exam materials (75 percent); and offer software or other resources (69 percent) to help patrons create resumes and other employment materials.
  • Internet use at public libraries has seen double-digit growth since 2007 in the on-line services they make available to their patrons. More than 71 percent of public libraries provide their community’s only free public access to computers and the Internet and more than 82 percent offer wireless access, an increase from about 54 percent in 2007.
  • New reductions were seen in 41 state library budgets during fiscal 2010.  Of states reporting decreases in local funding to public libraries, the majority were in the 5-10 percent range.
  • The number of libraries offering homework resources in 2009 was almost 80 percent, while 73 percent offered audio content, 62 percent virtual reference, 55 percent e-books, and 51 percent video content.
  • Academic libraries added 20 million e-books bringing the total to about 102.5 million—a breathtaking two-year increase of 59.4 percent from the 64.3 million held in fiscal 2006, according to the NCES.

For more information on the 2010 State of America’s Libraries Report, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/State2010 or contact Macey Morales, ALA media relations manager, at 312-280-4393, mmorales@ala.org, or Jennifer Petersen, ALA PR coordinator, at 312-280-5043, jpetersen@ala.org.