Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Save Your Libraries: They're Good for the Economy

Collecting petitions
Last week I stood outside of my local library collecting signatures to save libraries in Oakland.  We're facing potential closures of 14 neighborhood libraries, and reduced services at the remaining four.

We're not the only city facing cuts. The American Library Association has created a Save Libraries in Your State page on their website just to help communities take action.

It makes me so mad it's hard to write about it.

Visiting my hometown library
I probably wouldn't be who I am today without the library. I spent so much time at my neighborhood library that when I went back after a decade to show it to my husband, the librarian remembered me!

I loved the library so much that my best friend and I would regularly go to the library as a play date (although we called it "hanging out" back then). We'd take out books and read until one of our moms picked us up. I also tried to start a library for the kids in my neighborhood in the basement of my house.
    I know that its cash, not cute stories about kids reading books, that the people making decisions about whether, or not to cut libraries care about, so here are 5 examples of how libraries are good for the economy taken from the ALA's Libraries and the Economy, and the Economic Value of Libraries Talking Points:
    1. Libraries are among the most effective of all public services, serving more than 2/3 of the public with less than 2 percent of all tax dollars.
    2. Libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically. From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries support lifelong learning.
    3. As more and more Americans look for employment, libraries are helping level the playing field for job seekers. Only 44 percent of the top 100 U.S. retailers accepted in-store paper applications in 2006- down from 68 percent in 2004. Library staff report that many patrons are turning to library computers and Internet access to find work, apply for jobs online, type resumes and cover letters and open email accounts.
    4. In Florida, for every dollar of public support spent on public libraries, income or wages increases by $12.66, and returned $6.54 for every dollar invested.
    5. In South Carolina, the total direct and indirect return on investment for every $1 spent on the state's public libraries by South Carolina state and local governments is $4.48 - nearly 350 percent.
      If your library is in danger, put your zip code into the blue widget below (created and made available by the South Carolina Library Association) to find advocacy resources in your community.

      For inspiration, read the round up of creative ways Save Oakland Libraries is getting its message out (e.g. Guerilla Storytime, Silent Funeral Procession, Save Oakland Libraries Bike Ride) in the post, Save Oakland Public Libraries is AWESOME!!

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      1. I had no idea that Oakland libraries were in such bad shape.

        I never realized until the past couple of years what a great resource my local library is. I had no idea, but with the economy the way it is, I turned to my local library for video rentals and computer use. It's great for families as well.

        I have given back to my library with books that I haven't read. I realize if I have't read these books yet, I'm not going to read them any time soon, so why not give them to someone who can enjoy them now, instead of me holding on to them, saying to myself, "I'm going to read that book next week", and next week something else comes up.

        Thank you for sharing about the Oakland libraries. I appreciate it.

      2. ZZ's ~

        It's my pleasure. Thanks for reading!



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