Wall Street Journal front page article highlights surge in library visits during tough economic times

Contact: Mark Gould

Director, ALA PIO

(312) 280-5042



For Immediate Release

January 20, 2009

CHICAGO - The Jan. 15 Wall Street Journal featured a front page article entitled, “
Folks are flocking to the library, a cozy place to find a job.”

The Wall Street Journal has 2 million readers and online subscribers, making it the second largest circulated newspaper in the U.S., behind USA Today

The article says, “Libraries across the country are reporting jumps in attendance of as much as 65 percent over the past year…Other recession-weary patrons are turning to libraries for cheap entertainment—killing time with the free computers, video rentals and, of course, books.”

ALA President Jim Rettig was quoted in the piece and said, “People recognize what a great value the public library is.” Rettig has been busy doing many interviews on this topic on behalf of ALA members during the past six months.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton contacted the ALA Public Information Office to learn more about the increase in attendance at the nation’s libraries about two weeks ago. Macey Morales, ALA PIO media relations manager, shared many stories with the reporter that were collected through ALA’s PR Talk List Serv. The stories vividly portrayed the increase in attendance at libraries. The Public Information Office (PIO) has been publicizing the increase in attendance at libraries since August.

“Never before has there been such a dire need to promote the value of our nation’s libraries, “ Morales said. “Thanks to submitted stories from ALA members and library PR professionals, PIO has been able to make a case for libraries.”

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 300 articles on the surge in library use have been published in magazines and newspapers around the country.

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 tookit at