A 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|
|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.