or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Boston Globe Covers Libraries

   August 1st, 2007

The Boston Globe logoA pair of articles appeared in last Sunday's (7/29) Boston Globe about the state of libraries.

The first, "Good Circulation..." is summed up nicely by the article's opening paragraph:

"Library directors remember the talk, not long ago, of technology rendering libraries obsolete. But statistics show that the opposite has occurred."

The second, "...for those who can afford it," is a bit more dire in tone.

"It's the ones who need it the most that get hit the hardest," [Mary Beth Pallis, Director of the Dunstable Free Public Library] said. "Libraries are the great equalizer: Anyone can use the library no matter how much money you make. I'm worried that may be disappearing."

This is the paradoxical reality that libraries face. I bet most people would say that libraries are important to a community, yet community funding is never a guaranteed thing.

Also in the paper was a chart of with circulation details on the 34 libraries in the Globe's Northwest delivery area. It compares each library's circulation levels in 1999 and 2006.

Some stats for the Chelmsford Library:

Circulation Increase over 1999
Print 61%
Audiobook 121%
DVD 64%
All materials 69%
Loans to other libraries 607%
Loans from other libraries 1,230%

There are reasons behind these numbers: 1999 was the last year before a building project more than tripled the size of the library. Chelmsford is well funded, which means we have longer hours and more parking than some libraries. And, being part of a consortium, in Massachusetts, means that we serve anyone who comes in the door, not just our 32,000 local residents.

Of course, I really hope it's because these patrons just know the value of libraries.

boston, boston globe, chelmsford, chelmsford library, libraries, library, public libraries, public library

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3 Responses to “Boston Globe Covers Libraries”

  1. Jack Black Says:

    I wish our local paper (San Jose Mercury-News) would do a story like that. Even though I live in the so-called Capital of Silicon Valley, I know that public library use just keeps increasing.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    Hey, contact them and tell them to get on the stick. Waking up three hours later than Globe reporters is no reason to slack off.

    I think one reason the Globe picked this up is because some libraries here have faced serious budget shortfalls.

    But to me, public library use in Silicon Valley certainly sounds like a story – I say approach them and see what happens.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    Ha… Jack, I just clicked through to your website. When I hovered over the url, I read http://healthelib.typepad.com as “heal the lib.” That’s a bit different than your focus as “Health E-Lib.”

    But either way, your site is a great resource. Thanks.