Reports from libraries around the country confirm what is happening in Santa Fe. As the economy struggles, more and more people are using their local libraries. In the last Fiscal Year, the Santa Fe Public Libraries tallied over 100,000 more visits than the year before. That equals a 14.36 % increase in visits. Patrons also checked out almost 100,000 more books, CDs and DVDs, a 19.84% increase. In addition, free internet computer use jumped 16.30% with 143,989 users.
Libraries become the hub of family life in hard times. When economic times get tough, families get creative. In reviewing their budgets, many families are turning to a familiar place - the public library.
The Libraries are family places. Children’s programs are offered several times a month and are free, thanks to generous Foundations and the Friends of the Library. And those books that were checked out? Just about 136,000 or 33% were children’s books.
When job hunting today, the creation of résumés, searching the net for jobs and applying on line for open positions has become the norm. But what if you do not have access to or own a computer? Where to turn? The answer is your local public library. The Library owns books on how to create résumés and cover letters. Want to write to a company you think might appreciate your skills? The reference staff can help find addresses and other information for the companies you are interested in.
Where else is such one stop shopping—on a Friday night families flock to check out DVDs, pick up books and check out the programs for the week. All for “free,” or at least for your tax dollars at work.
But what does your tax dollar buy? The City funds the libraries with additional support from the State GO Bonds and privately donated funds from such generous funders as the Friends of the Library. A City resident pays approximately $ 40.00 per person annually for Libraries and Library services. But what does one get for that? Here’s how you can measure your Library value to you.
The Library recently posted a calculator to gauge your Library “value” for the services you use each month. By entering the Library services you use each month-- how many books you checked out a month, how many programs you attended and how many times you used the free internet-- the calculations are made automatically to show what you had saved by using the Library in a month. My total came to just over $600 per month. That makes libraries a bargain! You can figure out what your savings are by going to the Library Value Calculator and filling in your library usage information.
Your library is a lifeline in hard times. If you haven’t used the Library lately, you are missing a lot.
Article by Jennifer Jaramillo of the Santa Fe Public Library Board.
Photo by TT @ SS