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Phone: 800.545.2433, ext. 5049

Fax: 800.280.5015

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Libraries and the Economy

Libraries support families and workers in a challenging economy. As the economy continues its slow recovery, libraries nationwide continue to play an important role in communities everywhere, as people turn to them for free entertainment, to connect to the Internet and look for jobs. Libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically – assisting the unemployed with jobs searches and filing unemployment benefits, helping the unskilled learn to use a computer, providing homework help and access to e-government services.

  • Library use is up: 76 percent of Americans visited libraries in the past year – public library visits exceeded 1.3 billion. Americans go to public, school and academic libraries 50 percent more than they go to movies.
  • Circulation is up: Libraries circulate 2.1 billion books, CDs, DVDs, and more. In fact, more items than FedEx ships.
  • Internet use is up: Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older used a public library computer or wireless network to access the internet in 2008.
  • Library card registration is up: Today 68 percent of American adults have public library cards – the greatest number since ALA began collecting this data in 1990.

Libraries are good ROI (return on investment). Libraries are among the most effective of all public services, serving more than two-thirds of the public with less than 2 percent of all tax dollars. Nationally, the average cost to the taxpayer for access to this wide range of public-library resources is $31 a year, about the cost of one hardcover book.

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