Why Your Local Public Library Is More Popular Than Ever

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As the economy tanks, library use surges. Makes sense, right? The library is a magnet for the unemployed: Last year, 30 million peopled used the library to help in the quest for a job. Many unemployed have no Internet access at home, and so the library is the only place they can search online for employment. Tons of libraries also career counseling sessions, classes on computer basics that include—sensibly enough—how to search for jobs online. Libraries are also great places to research new career fields. And if you’re out of work and your budget for entertainment has been slashed, the local library is a free alternative to a bookstore or movie theater.

The SF Chronicle highlights some of the many ways job hunters are using libraries in the Bay area and, by extension, the entire country. The stats listed in the story reveal just how much practical mileage people get out of libraries:

— More than 77 million people over age 14 used a library computer last year.

— 30 million people used library computers to help address career and employment needs.

— Among these users, 76 percent searched for jobs online.

— Among job seekers, 68 percent went on to apply for a job or submit a resume.

The piece also points out that, sadly, ironically, the same economic hard times that have caused a spurt in library usage are also causing municipalities to cut back on all sorts of expenditures, including library budgets.

So libraries are being forced to get by with less just when people need libraries the most.

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