ALA media placements boost coverage of libraries in a tough economy

The Jan. 15 Wall Street Journal (circulation 2 million readers and online subscribers), which featured a front page article entitled, “Folks are flocking to the library, a cozy place to find a job,” was another in a series of high level media relations placements achieved by ALA.  

Media – national, regional and local – are covering this story on a regular basis, and the radio, TV, print and Web postings keep rolling in.About two weeks ago, Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton contacted the ALA Public Information Office to learn more about the increase in attendance at the nation’s libraries during tough economic times. Macey Morales, ALA PIO media relations manager, shared many stories with the reporter that were collected through ALA’s PR Talk List Serv. The stories vividly portrayed the increase in attendance at libraries. The Public Information Office (PIO) has been publicizing the increase in visits at libraries since August.

“Never before has there been such a dire need to promote the value of our nation’s libraries, ” Morales said. “Thanks to submitted stories from ALA members and library PR professionals, PIO has been able to make a case for libraries.”

On Dec. 31, 2008, Katie Couric reported on the CBS Evening News segment “Notebook: Libraries” that “Americans are saving money, and keeping the looming recession at bay, by going to their local libraries to rent books, CDs and DVDs,” adding that libraries are “hotter than ever.”

On Jan. 7, The New York Times blog Freakonomics wrote about the  “The Public Library Renaissance.” The author reported that fewer people bought books, CDs and DVDs in 2008 than the year before and that movie, concert and theatre attendance was also down. Freakonomics also asked, “If nobody seems to be out buying books, movies and music, what are they doing with their time instead? Apparently: going to the library.”

Past placements include the NBC Nightly News, Parade Magazine and an op-ed in the Huffington Post.

Since August, more than 300 articles on the surge in library use have been published in magazines and newspapers around the country.

PIO has developed publicity tools to help librarians tell their stories in their communities. Press releases, talking points and an FAQ on the surge in library visits can be found in the “Advocating in a Tough Economy tookit at

Submitted by Mark Gould, Director, ALA Public Information Office

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