Washington Post: Business brisk at area libraries

Contact: Mark Gould

Director, ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-5042



For Immediate Release

February 3, 2009

'Business Brisk at Area Libraries: In bad times, free resources are a hot commodity,' a lengthy article in the Feb. 2 Washington Post.com:
http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/news.jsp?key=346145&rc=me, describes the increase in library use in area libraries.

Many patrons are quoted about how the library has been valuable to them as they search for jobs and try to reduce their personal expenses. Circulation in area libraries rose as much as 23 percent around the region, according to the article.

Author Annie Gowen writes, " The influx (of patrons) comes just as county managers are preparing budgets for the coming fiscal year in a time of huge shortfalls. Libraries, like other services, face drastic cuts that could mean reducing staff and hours or even shuttering branches."

ALA President Jim Rettig is quoted: "It's a cruel irony that use is going up and budget cuts are occurring simultaneously. What I think doesn't get enough recognition is the role libraries play in the economic vitality and development of a community."

Gowen later writes: "Cultural soothsayers once thought libraries would become obsolete in the Internet age. Not so. They have modernized, digitized, virtualized."

The recent work of the ALA Public Information Office has generated many stories on this topic. On Dec. 31, 2008, Katie Couric reported on the
CBS Evening News segment
“Notebook: Libraries” that “Americans are saving money, and keeping the looming recession at bay, by going to their local libraries to rent books, CD’s and DVD’s” adding that libraries are “hotter than ever.”

On Jan. 7,
The New York Times blog
Freakonomics wrote an article entitled “
The Public Library Renaissance,” in which the author reported that fewer people bought books, CD’s and DVD’s in 2008 than the year before and that movie, concert and theatre attendance was also down. Freakonomics also asked, “If nobody seems to be out buying books, movies and music, what are they doing with their time instead? Apparently: going to the library.”

Past placements include the
NBC Nightly News, Parade Magazine and an op-ed in the
Huffington Post.

Since August, more than 400 articles on the surge in library use have been published in magazines, newspapers and on web sites.

PIO has developed publicity tools to help librarians tell their stories in their communities. Press releases, talking points and an FAQ on the surge in library visits can be found in the “Advocating in a Tough Economy toolkit at