Libraries Used More During Difficult Economic Times

ALBANY, NY (03/26/2008)(readMedia)-- Noting that public library use increases during tough economic times, the New York Library Association (NYLA) today called upon the State Legislature and new Governor to reach an agreement to restore $5 million in Library Aid, so libraries can continue to offer the services and reading materials to the neediest in our communities.

“When the public’s buying power shrinks and household expenses grow, people tend to rely more on their public libraries for free reading materials and services, like literacy programs and computer training,” said Michael Borges, NYLA’s Executive Director. “That’s why restoring the critical state Library Aid is so important this year.”

Borges continued: “We understand that times are tough for everyone, including state and local government, but a mere $5 million in the state budget will have many positive ripple effects including helping public libraries meet an increasing demand and allowing library districts to keep potential property tax increases down, something local taxpayers can certainly appreciate.”

Borges went on to say that a January Zogby poll showed that a majority of New Yorkers support continued increases in state aid for libraries despite uncertain economic times. “In fact, 82 percent of New Yorkers support more state funding for purchasing more and updated library books,” he said.

The American Library Association has commissioned studies in the past that demonstrate a clear connection between an economic decline and an increase in public library use. One five-year study released in April of 2002, saw a match between circulation increases at 25 of the nation’s largest public libraries and time periods labeled “recessions” by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“The ALA studies confirm the stories we’ve heard in the past and are once again hearing from our members,” said Borges. “Just the other day, one of our members from a Capital Region public library emailed me a story about two young women in their twenties who renewed their library cards because money was too tight to go to a book store. We see people flocking back to our libraries at a time when library dollars are also tight, which means that state funding has never been so important to our local public libraries.”