There have been mumblings in certain quarters recently suggesting that libraries are a waste of money in this day and age.
Pardon me, but I beg to differ; and this is why:
- Two-thirds of Americans have a library card.
- Every day 300,000 Americans get job-seeking help at their public library.
- 13,000 public libraries offer career assistance. By comparison, the US Department of Labor offers 3,000 career centers.
- Americans are six times more likely to visit a public library than they are to attend a live sporting event. US public libraries receive 1.4 billion visits annually.
- Small business owners and employees use public library resources 2.8 million times each month to support their businesses.
- 5,400 public libraries offer free technology classes - that's more technology training classes than there are computer training businesses in the US. Every day, 14,700 people attend free library computer classes - a retail value of $2.2 million.
- Every day, 225,000 people use library meeting rooms at a retail value of $11 million. There are more meeting rooms available at public libraries than there are meeting rooms in all the US conference centers, convention facilities and auditoriums combined.
- Most public libraries offer internet access - a vital resource for the approximate 1 in 4 people who do not have internet access at home.
- Every day, US libraries circulate 7.9 million items. That's more materials than FedEx ships worldwide.
Lest these stats aren't enough to prove the point, let me leave you with a comment posted on BookBrowse's Facebook page yesterday:
"I am a librarian in a large system in New Jersey, and we are receiving an awful lot of angry calls. Today, when I answered the reference phone, I was told I am a waste of taxpayers money, among other choice words. As the budget problems in NJ get worse, more people (along with Gov Christie) seem to be targeting librarians as wasteful. Five years ago, this would be unheard of. You can imagine how I felt - I make around 40K, teach Excel, Word, Power Point, continue to develop more classes to improve job skills, am working on a state partnership to bring resume/job searching workshops here, develop ~20 adult programs out of thin air, run book groups .... am I a waste of taxpayers' dollars?" - Martha
After reading this, can you honestly tell Martha that she's a waste of money?
"The richest person in the world - in fact all the riches in the world - couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library." - Malcolm Forbes
"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest." - Lady Bird Johnson
"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." - Andrew Carnegie