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Surge in library usage continues to be covered by national, regional and local media

Jim Rettig

 Media outlets across the country are reporting that Americans are visiting their libraries more than ever, taking advantage of the free programs and services.According to the ALA’s 2008 State of America’s Libraries Report, Americans visited their libraries nearly 1.3 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year, an increase of more than 10 percent in both checked out items and library visits, compared to data from the last economic downturn in 2001.

The ALA Public Information Office started educating media about this upsurge in library visits last summer. Media – large and small – started to cover this developing story and placements continue to roll in.

Most recently, Parade Magazine picked up on the story and interviewed ALA President Jim Rettig in the article “Libraries Facing Closures and Cuts.” Parade is distributed to nearly 330 newspapers world-wide and reaches over 32 million people each week.

The Huffington Post, a daily online news magazine reaching more than two million visitors per month, posted an op-ed written by Rettig entitled “Libraries Stand Ready to Help in Tough Economic Times.”

A few weeks ago, NBC Nightly News (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/28165432#28165432) covered the story in depth. The story has also aired on NPR and the CBS Nightly News.

Look for more stories in the months ahead.

Contributed by Jennifer Petersen, Public Information Office.

AL Focus video features Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award

Here is the latest video for AL Focus featuring the ceremony for the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. The video gives a nice overview of all of the winners.

Did you hear that more than 3,200 library users sent in nominations? The award will continue for the next four years, and I think we’ll see even more in coming years.

If you want to read more about the winners, visit the award Web site www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian. – Contributed by Megan Humphrey, Manager, Campaign for America’s Libraries

Vernon Jordan lauds libraries

In this video interview, taken during the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. Vernon E. Jordan Jr., lawyer, civil rights leader and close adviser to former President Bill Clinton, talks about the role of libraries, including segregated libraries, and librarians in shaping his life.

Born in 1935, Jordan earned money for college while serving as chauffeur to former Atlanta Mayor Robert Maddox. After earning his law degree at Howard University, he returned to Atlanta, joining a law firm involved in a successful suit against the University of Georgia, which had refused admission of two African American students. He personally escorted one of the students to the university’s admissions office past white protesters.

Jordan later served as Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), executive director of the United Negro College Fund and president of the National Urban League.

The interview is one in a series that the ALA Public Information Office is conducting with newsmakers, authors and entertainers who appear at the ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting. – Contributed by Steve Zalusky, Manager of Communications, ALA Public Information Office

NBC Nightly News focuses on how libraries make a difference during tough economic times

This week, the NBC Nightly News told America about the value of libraries during tough economic times.

Libraries are playing a critical role in helping people get back on their feet. They  continue to report that many patrons are using library computers to prepare resumes and cover letters, find work, apply for jobs online and open e-mail accounts. Less than 44 percent of the top 100 U.S. retailers accept in-store paper applications.

Many libraries design and offer programs tailored to meet local community economic needs, providing residents with guidance (including sessions with career advisers), career training and workshops, job-search resources and connections with outside agencies that offer training and job placement.

Libraries are also helping people obtain government services. For example, in Virginia we heard from a library director that she spent most of a day helping a woman re-establish her disability payments. “You can’t look for a job. You can no longer go to the Virginia employment office (which had closed several satellite offices). You have to do it online.

The bad news? Libraries are being asked to do more with less. Public libraries are facing the most severe cutbacks in decades, as budget shortfalls hit cities, towns and rural areas across the country. Some libraries  report they are cutting hours and services; some are even facing the threat of closure at a time when their support is needed most. For more information, visit http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/libfunding/index.cfm.

The ALA Washington Office will ask Congress to include  funding for U.S. libraries. This comes at a time when Congress is considering a variety of stimulus packages that will support job creation and economic growth.  

Please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/washfunding/fedfund/stimulusfund.cfm for more information.

Contributed by Macey Morales, Manager, Media Relations, ALA Public Information Office

Check it outback @ your library

If you happen to visit the Picton Branch of the Wollondilly Library in New South Wales, Australia you will be greeted by the words “Find it @ your library.”

The Picton Branch of the Wollondilly Library in New South Wales, Australia was recently featured in a series of videocasts that showcase the best practices of how libraries around the globe are using Web 2.0 materials. The videos were created to help showcase these examples and provide a forum where other libraries could view and learn from them.

Read the full press release

Contributed by Megan McFarlane, Program Coordinator, Campaign for America’s Libraries

Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian winners announced

New York Times ad

Today, the winners of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian winners were announced.

Here they are:

Linda Allen

Libraries Director

Pasco County Library System

Hudson, Fla.

Jean Amaral

Reference Librarian

Antioch University New England

Keene, N.H.

Amy J. Cheney


Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall

San Leandro, Calif.

Jennifer Lankford Dempsey

Library Media Specialist and Technology Coordinator

Wrights Mill Road Elementary School

Auburn, Ala.

Carol W. Levers

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library; Weekend Supervisor

Plaza Branch Library, Kansas City Public Library

Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Margaret “Gigi” Lincoln

Library Media Specialist

Lakeview High School Library

Battle Creek, Mich.

Iona R. Malanchuk

Associate University Librarian and Head of the Education Library

University of Florida

Gainesville, Fla.

Elaine McIlroy


Wellfleet Public Library

Wellfleet, Mass.

Paul McIntosh

Library Media Specialist

Wadleigh Secondary School For The Performing and Visual Arts

New York, N.Y.

Arezoo Moseni

Senior Librarian

The New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Library, The Art Collection

New York, N.Y.

The New York Times is taking out a full page ad to congratulate the winners and is hosting an award ceremony and reception in their honor in Manhattan at TheTimesCenter. You can read more about the winners on ALA’s Web site for the public, www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian. American Libraries magazine will also be on site at the awards ceremony to cover it. Photos coming soon!