Posted by: bluesyemre | July 26, 2018

Why #libraries are an economic lifeline for millions of Americans


Many libraries across the country have had their belts tightened courtesy of city and state lawmakers — even while they have witnessed an uptick in visitors.

Ron Baron’s local library was a critical lifeline when he was unemployed.

The 20-year-old resident of Grand Junction, Colo., often found himself hanging out at the library when he was jobless. “It’s one of the only places I could go to without the expectation of spending money,” Baron said.

But the library was more than just a place to relax indoors. Baron also used resources at his library to apply for a job. And when he found out that the job he initially wanted was already filled, library staff helped connect him with a workforce center that helps unemployed individuals find jobs free of charge. “I would have never learned about it otherwise,” he said.


Colorado resident Ron Baron, 20, relied on his local library when he was unemployed.
Libraries are very popular—with good reason

Americans still love their local libraries. A staggering 94% of Americans ages 16 and older said that have a public library is beneficial to the quality of life in a community, according to a 2013 study from Pew Research Center. Additionally, 90% said that the closing of the local public library would have a negative impact on their community if it were to happen, even though 52% of people said they need their libraries less these days.

Here are some of the many ways that libraries improve the communities they are located in:

Fines can reduce the benefits of libraries

While most agree that libraries having a significantly positive impact on the communities they serve, some argue that certain policies can bar lower-income individuals from accessing those benefits.

The vast majority (92%) of public libraries collect fines when customers returned borrowed materials late. The average daily fine for late books was 17 cents for adults and 14 cents for children. Most libraries capped the fines at an average of $5 for print materials. The fines were much higher for DVDs, games and devices.

Those fines quickly add up: New York City’s three independent library systems collected $5.5 million in fines in 2015.

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