Library’s in Crisis

The Huffington Post recently began posting a new series, ominously titled: “Libraries in Crisis”

This week saw the latest update – “Library Budget Cuts Threaten Community Services Across Country…” Indeed, Libraries have been hard hit by the recession (from 08 through 09) – “nearly 40 percent of American mayors plan to reduce hours, shed employees or make other cutbacks in the coming months…” – Reporter Lucas Kavner cites the troubles in Dearborn, MI, where one of its four library branches was forced to close at the end of this summer, and goes on to reference Detroit – with library officials, union members and commissioners debating, heatedly, over whether to close four of its 23 libraries.

The series has continued to ponder – What is the role of the Modern Library

From this week’s post: “According to the most recent Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study (PLFTAS), libraries and librarians provide essential services that are found scarcely anywhere else, especially to citizens who are struggling economically. Seventy percent of libraries indicated that their Internet services increased in 2010, and 65 percent report that they provide the only source of free public access to computers in their community. Eighty-one percent of Americans who have been “economically impacted” by the recession have a library card today, as supposed to 68 percent of Americans who have not been affected, according to a 2010 study from the Online Computer Library Center.”

Plus, not every one can afford $4 latte’s charged by the typical coffee shops who expect users of their free wi-fi to buy their brew.

The key to “library survival” will be the adaptation of this hallowed institution, its staff and its services, to the demands (and technological advances) of the 21st century.

“Libraries,” Kavner writes, “have the potential to be leaders at the forefront of this Age of Information…”

But that all depends, on funding, on the waves of the economy…on so much.

We’ll see what happens.

For more information on libraries (and the future-of-libraries) –visit the American Library Association.

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