ALA: Obama’s concern over closures demonstrates understanding of libraries’ role in economy

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer, ALA Washington

(202) 628-8410


For Immediate Release

December 4, 2008

WASHINGTON – The American Library Association (ALA) today applauds President-elect Barack Obama for recognizing the effect library closings have on communities during a meeting with the National Governors Association.

Obama, discussing potential budget shortfalls for the 41 states represented during the meeting, cited library closures as one of the drastic measures already being taken to balance state budgets.

Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the ALA Washington Office, said it is critical for governors and members of Congress to understand how public libraries can help get the economy back on its feet, and President-elect Obama’s comments today served as a reminder of the importance of keeping libraries open during this time of economic hardship.

“Public libraries stand ready to help communities recover from this economic tailspin,” Sheketoff said. “Governors and mayors need to make sure that the funding for these multi-purpose economic engines is in place.”

Currently, 73 percent of all libraries nationwide report that they are they are the only provider of free Internet access in their communities. In rural areas, the role of the public library is even more critical, as 83 percent of libraries are the only free Internet provider.

Sheketoff said libraries also help Americans get jobs by providing services such as skills assessment, resume preparation, information technology training, small-business development classes and much more.