Surge in library usage continues to generate interest

Contact: Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations



For Immediate Release

Jan. 13, 2009

CHICAGO – As Americans flock to libraries in record numbers, the media continues to highlight the critical role libraries play during economic hard times. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Public Information Office’s (PIO) has spent the past few months educating the media about the increase in visits at libraries, and the media has noticed:

On Dec. 31, Katie Couric reported on the CBS Evening News segment “Notebook: Libraries” that “American’s are saving money and keeping the looming recession at bay, by going to their local libraries to rent books, CDs and DVDs.” To view the clip online, visit

The New York Times also took notice of this growing trend in its Jan. 7, 2007 Freakonomics blog post. In the post, “The Public Library Renaissance,” the author reported that fewer people bought books, CDs and DVDs 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.” The blog post can be found at

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

To help library supporters achieve advocacy goals at the local level, a new Web-based resource with tools and resources has been created. The “ALA Advocating in a Tough Economy” toolkit is available at and contains information on how to work with decision-makers, ways to work with the media and talking points to help libraries articulate the role of libraries in times of economic downturn. Users are also invited to share their stories of how they have successfully advocated as well as view recent media coverage of libraries.