The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) aired a news story today about the financial difficulties facing libraries. The CBN News segment features American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels.
Entitled, “Shhh! Despite Boom, Libraries Facing Cutbacks,” the story says that libraries may be quiet but they are the busiest places in town. It notes the steady increase in usage during the past decade.
It shows how libraries have stayed up-to-date, embracing the online world. But it also documents how libraries are having trouble staying afloat, due to budget cuts. “That usually results in fewer librarians, fewer hours and, in some cases, closing the doors all together.”
“We’re terribly depressed at what’s happened in some places, and the main reason is because of the impact it’s going to have on the people in the community,” Fiels says, giving the example of the threat faced by libraries in Milwaukee.
The fourth poorest city in the U.S., according to census figures, Milwaukee cut $1.7 million from its library budget last year, with libraries cutting some evening hours and closing on one weekend day.
Cuts in library budgets have a direct impact on citizens who are trying to conduct job searches. In addition, there is an impact on communities where libraries provide the only free access to the Internet.
“When you think about it, a library is the only government entity whose doors are open all the time,” Fiels said.
The CBN segment also examines how libraries are critical to the next generation, showing how parents rely on libraries in helping them to raise their children.
“I think that the library’s role in our educational system is totally underrated,” Fiels said.