Thursday, April 16, 2009

The State of America’s Libraries Report 2009

From the Report Summary:

The value of libraries in communities across the country continued to grow in 2008 — and accelerated dramatically as the national economy sank and people looked for cost effective resources in a time of crisis, according to the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual State of America’s Libraries report, released Monday as part of National Library Week, April 12-18, 2009.

The report states library usage soared 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.

However, public funding did not keep pace with use, according to a survey conducted by the ALA. Forty-one percent of states report declining state funding for U.S. public libraries for fiscal year 2009. Twenty percent of these states anticipate additional reductions in the current fiscal year.

+ Children are among the heaviest users of public-library resources. Children’s materials accounted for 35 percent of all circulation transactions, and attendance at library-based children’s programs was 57.8 million.

+ Individual visits to school library media centers increased significantly at the schools that responded to both the 2007 and 2008 surveys: up 22.7 percent for the 50th percentile, up 12.5 percent for the 75th percentile and up almost 25 percent for the 95th percentile. There were no major year-to-year differences in the responses with regard to the other variables.

+ Academic libraries maintain their leading role in partnering to scan and digitize print book collections, with the potential to provide unprecedented access to millions of volumes. Large-scale digitization initiatives include Google Book Search, Microsoft Live Search Books, Open Content Alliance and the Million Book Project.

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