If you ignore budget woes, it seems the recession has been quite a boon for libraries. There is a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this morning claiming a dramatic surge in library traffic as patrons use library resources for job hunting and cheap entertainment. This isn't the first time library attendance has spiked in a downturn; the 1987 and 2001 recessions saw similar jumps, librarians say. And that is so ironic because many libraries are cutting their hours, reducing staff or even being closed altogether because of budget problems.
Well worth a read and here is an excerpt:
"Librarians are turning into job counselors -- and even social workers -- as they have to deal with a sometimes-desperate new class of patrons. "They are frustrated, overwhelmed and thought they would not be job hunting again in their lives," says Jan Perrier, head of reference and adult services at the Roxbury Public Library in Succasunna, N.J. "I had one woman just so overwhelmed she sat in front of the PC and cried."
Many jobless people are reporting to the library as they used to report to the office. Career books are in particularly great demand at the Morris County Library in Whippany, N.J. "The shelves are bare," says Lynne Olver, chief librarian there. She says attendance in "Career Resource Seminars" that the library has held for many years jumped to 745 in 2008, from 472 in 2007.
Others come in to escape their troubles for a while. Wesley Martin on Friday tapped his hands to the beat of a hip-hop video he was watching on one of the Tracy library's computers. "This is just a chance for me to get out of my house," said the 33-year-old, who lost his job at a discount store a month ago."