Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Contrary to What You've Heard, Libraries Aren't Dead

From Ash:

If you've shared my concern that about the health and welfare of our nation's public libraries, a report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics should give you some hope.

Which is interesting timing, since I'm still reeling from the January 2nd Washington Post article about how Fairfax, Virginia libraries are actively discarding books that haven't been checked out within 24 months. I think that's horrid on two levels. I can't imagine any library worth its salt not having books such as To Kill A Mockingbird, The Glass Menagerie, The Sound and the Fury, or The Mayor of Casterbridge (all on the list of removed titles) on its shelves, nor can I fathom how no one checked them out for two years. But, as usual, I digress.

So it turns out that, in 2002, 48 percent of American households visited a public library at least once in the preceding year. Utah had the most – a whopping 62 percent of households went to the library.

For those who think that libraries' only way of continuing to be vital is by going digital, the jury's still out: just nine percent were there to use the computer. And they weren't going for lectures – just two percent did that – no, most were there to check out books, or at least browse through the collection.

Apparently, going to the library is a family outing – among 69 percent of two-parent with kid households are going, while 60 percent of single mom/kid households are there.

The report may also explain why I'm still available: just 29 percent of single guys made it to the library, compared to 33 percent of single women.

But the upside for me is that the few guys in the library might be interesting, if I can find them: households with higher incomes and higher education levels go to the library as frequently as families with kids.

The downside for the libraries is that the lower the education level and the lower the economic level, the fewer go – and I sort of thought that was the idea of public libraries – getting knowledge for all.

So, to librarians out there – Singles Nights in the Stacks.

For the rest of you, please get yourselves to a library and check out a book – at least in Virginia – the book you save may be your own.


Anonymous anne said...

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

9:07 AM  
Blogger cathy said...

Thank you for hailing the wondrousness of libraries. I have been a lover of libraries since I was a wee child. I love browsing the stacks and waiting for a book to speak to me. I have turned to libraries for book-friends when I have been at my lowest. I found Po's book - "Why do I love these people" - in the library, after I had chosen my usual four books from the fiction aisles. My motto - so many books so little time!!

In the many towns I have lived in, I have first gotten my library card. Many of those towns have shortened their hours, in an effort to be cost effective - whatever that means. I am also saddened by the 'Saturday book sales,' when they sell off the books which haven't been read in a while - but as has been explained to me nearly everywhere I have lived - there is only so much space and there is also 'inter-library loan.'

Bookstores are my addiction but libraries are my lifeline!

3:55 PM  

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