When my maternal grandparents retired to Bend, Oregon in the early 1980s, my grandmother, Marilyn, became a volunteer at the Deschutes Public Library. The library has a program to circulate books through the mail to house-bound and far-flung rural patrons, and for years Grandma was responsible for corresponding with, and selecting books for her own particular group of patrons.
Well, the library’s just made news with rising circulation and patronage numbers, according to the Bend Bulletin:
People are flocking to Deschutes County libraries, and officials say the slumping economy may be bringing them business. From July through November, patrons checked out about 10 percent more books and other items compared with the same period last year.
. . . State Librarian Jim Scheppke said circulation increased by 2.5 percent between the budget cycle that ended in June and the previous budget cycle, and the state set a circulation record of 51.7 million items. Scheppke was impressed by the circulation growth described in Deschutes County.
“The Deschutes numbers sound pretty amazing,” Scheppke said. “It is something we’re hearing in all the public libraries right now. We’ve known ever since the Great Depression in the 1930s that library use pretty much tracks the economy. In bad times, library use has always gone up.”
Of course, there are a lot of obviously negative implications of a recession, but I can’t think of any scenario where increase use of libraries is a bad thing!