The Library: A Safe Port in Troubled Times

I’ve had several conversations with many of our patrons over the last few weeks, and we seem to agree on one thing- these are hard economic times for many of us. There are a variety of factors, ranging from the price of such staples as eggs, milk and bread to the lack of “disposable income” for such niceties as movies or lattes at our favorite coffee shop. We keep reading about unemployment and foreclosure rates and shudder as we look at gas prices.

I read recently that bad times in the economy means good news for libraries as use increases. As home budgets shrink, patrons come in to loan what they used to buy, or to read job ads, or to work on their resumes, or to meet people who also find themselves at liberty. It’s frustrating for us in the library profession as we know the demand for library services is going up while the actual buying power of our budget is going down.

I have to agree with the article as our monthly circulation has kept rising. We’ve seen many new patrons come in to get library cards. What surprises me most is the increase in the number of seniors, teenagers and younger adults getting library cards, many of them for the first time.

We have suffered along with our patrons as we try to stretch our dollars in order to provide the services so many of our patrons need in this current economy. Patrons coming into the library will note that we are attempting to do little things to stretch our budget.

Please understand, I’m not trying to plead poverty- well, not on a “public” level. Like everyone else who has had three kids go to college I know how to work with a tight budget. Since I have been here at CCLD, we have tried to work smarter, do more with less, form new partnerships, and reach out to the community and those wonderful philanthropists within it.

In times of crisis, Americans look to their enduring institutions to provide a certain level of stability. I just want to let our community know that we are here for them, always have been, and will continue to meet their needs as best we can.

Ronald W. Shaw