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Tough economy means libraries get more use, less funding

The recession has people flocking to libraries to save money by checking out books, videos and magazines, but funding for libraries is down at the same time, putting pressure on staff, says the Albert Lea Tribune.
At the Austin Public Library, cir

The recession has people flocking to libraries to save money by checking out books, videos and magazines, but funding for libraries is down at the same time, putting pressure on staff, says the Albert Lea Tribune.

At the Austin Public Library, circulation is on pace for record levels, while the budget is going down and it’s short one staffer.

Said the paper:

The scene in Austin is playing out all over the country. According to the American Library Association’s annual State of America’s Libraries report, released in April, library popularity is peaking but support is not.

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The report indicates that more than 68 percent of Americans have a library card — the highest percentage since the ALA began tracking the number in 1990.

Library usage was also up as Americans visited their libraries nearly 1.4 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year, an increase of more than 10 percent in both checked out items and library visits, compared to data from the last economic downturn in 2001.

The report states that both trends are indicative of people looking for cost effective resources — like job-related help — during a downturn.

However, 41 percent of states report declining state funding for U.S. public libraries in 2009, and many libraries are dealing with reduced hours and staff.

Computer usage at the Albert Lea library has jumped, as many people look for  jobs or fill out unemployment forms.