State of America's Libraries 2008

The ALA has published the 2008 State of America’s Libraries report. Here are their key findings:

  • Americans check out over 2 billion items annually from public libraries.
  • The average user checks out over 7 books/year.
  • The average taxpayer bill for public library services – $31/year.
  • Public libraries are engines of economic growth, contributing to local development through programming in early literacy, employment services and small-business development.
  • Libraries provide excellent ROI, positively impact the local economy, and contribute to neighborhood quality of life.
  • School library media centers help students learn more and score higher on standardized tests, but their funding continues to lag.
  • Teens are regular users of public library services.
  • Almost all of the nation’s public libraries offer YA programs & over half employ at least one full-time staff equivalent in this area.
  • Computer and on-line games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons.
  • Spanish is the top-priority language to which libraries devote non-English language services and programs.
  • Most libraries serving non-English speakers are in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.
  • Ebooks continued to emerge as a regular feature of libraries of all types.
  • Library supporters won an important victory in 2007 when the Environmental Protection Agency was ordered to re-open many of the libraries it had closed in the past year.
  • College and research libraries continue to find innovative new ways to meet the rapidly evolving needs of the academy.
  • Libraries and librarians of all stripes continue to stand up for the First Amendment rights of all Americans, responding in public discourse and in court to unconstitutional snooping and aspiring book-banners. The right to read — freely and in private — remains a core value of the profession.

via Stephen’s Lighthouse