Today both the Guardian and the New York Times had articles about the hard times public libraries are facing because of the economic downturn. The article in the Guardian explained that public libraries in the UK are facing budget cuts, on top of years of inadequate funding, and less than steller attention from local politicians.
The article in the New York Times explained that while public libraries are seeing double digit increases in patron usage, this high demand is also creating new sources of stress. The article described librarians having to deal with higher numbers of homeless people sleeping at the library, reference librarians having to help people fill out job applications, and lots of people trying to use the web who don’t really know what they are doing.
I think it’s clear that when the economy goes sour more and more people need the free resources that the library provides. During these times the smart thing to do would be to protect library budgets as much as posible. If public libraries reduce their hours, and resources where will all these people needing help go? Besides, the longer people are unemployed, the longer it will take for the economy to start turning around.