Friday, April 19, 2013

State of American Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) released their annual State of American Libraries report this week. Highlights include:

Libraries served over 95% of the US population this year. Half of those who visited the library said they did so to get help from a librarian. While actual visits to the library decreased, circulation is the highest in 10 years. Circulation of children’s materials has increased by nearly 30% during the last decade.

Libraries strive not just to keep up with technology, but to lead the way. They offer computer and internet access, instruction in new technologies, and ebooks. The library community and publishers continue to search for equitable solutions that will allow libraries to buy and lend ebooks while allowing publishers a fair profit.

Libraries “offer a lifeline to people trying to adapt to challenging economic circumstances by providing technology training and online resources for employment, access to government resources, continuing education, retooling for new careers”, according to ALA President Maureen Sullivan.

Budget cuts, branch closings, and reduced hours and staffing continue to plague many libraries across America. As a result, libraries are looking to Friends groups for support.

“Public libraries in America continue as strong anchors for their communities, valued by the people they serve and striving to meet the changing needs of their service populations. Public libraries continue to be an essential service for the nation’s children”, said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth.