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Use of state's public libraries rising during recession

News Release
Issued: February 04, 2009

Washington’s hard-pressed public libraries are seeing more customer usage during the current economic recession, according to a recent study by the Washington State Library.

“Libraries have always been a valuable and useful resource for citizens, and this study indicates that it’s even more the case as people rely more on their library’s services when the economy falters,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed.  

“This study follows a trend found elsewhere in the nation during this current economic recession: More people are relying on their public libraries during tough economic times,” said Washington State Librarian Jan Walsh. “It really underscores the importance of public libraries, especially when the economy declines and unemployment rises.”

Walsh recently met with the state’s public library directors and learned that people are inundating libraries to use their computers to apply for jobs, file for unemployment, and use other resources.

The State Library’s study revealed an increase in each of the six categories measured over a six-month period from June 2008 to November 2008 compared to the same period in the previous year:
• Attendance (patron visits), 7.5 percent;
• Circulation (material checkouts), 11.22 percent;
• Virtual visits (such as to a library Web page), 20.21 percent;
• Reference transactions, 4.41 percent;
• Percent of time public Internet computers are in use, 9.74 percent; and
• Number of public Internet computer users, 13.77 percent.  

This document provides more details of the Washington State Library’s study.

The Washington State Library Web site is http://www.secstate.wa.gov/library/ .