The Poverty-Stricken Masses Are Flocking To Libraries

Why waste precious cash at Borders and Barnes & Noble when you can go to the library for free? It’s a simple question that is causing traffic local libraries to spike as flocks of new patrons register for library cards. We’ve praised libraries before, but it takes a depressing recession to convince people that yes, even they could use an extra buck in their wallet.

Checkouts of books, CDs, and DVDs are up 15 percent at the main library in Modesto, Calif. In Boulder, Colo., circulation of job-hunting materials is up 14 percent. Usage of the Newark Public Library in New Jersey is up 17 percent. Library card requests have increased 27 percent in the last half of 2008 in San Francisco. The Boise Public Library reported a 61 percent increase in new library cards in 2008. In Brantley County, Georgia, library computer usage was up 26 percent in the last quarter.

“Some have said their computer at home was all torn up,” Brantley library manager Kathy Moody told the Florida Times-Union. “Others have said they don’t have Internet service or they had to drop their service.”

Thanks to the library, we’ve managed to go for about three years without buying a book. That’s easily worth $2,000 that is still in our bank account. Since we’re chronically forgetful, we also use LibraryThing, perhaps the most useful web utility ever created to track of what we’ve borrowed.

Not every library has as many easily-accessible volumes as those in the big cities, and even larger systems will be stressed by the new demand. Regardless, you should never to go to the bookstore without first visiting your local library.

The library – a recession sanctuary [The Boston Globe]
The Public Library Renaissance [Freakonomics]
PREVIOUSLY: 7 Ways Your Public Library Can Help You During A Bad Economy
(Photo: Thomas Hawk)