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The State of American Libraries

ALA has just released “The 2012 State of America’s Libraries.” This report focuses on the many issues libraries faced in 2011. Like many, libraries have been greatly affected by the recession. The Library of Congress lost 9% of its budget and 10% of its workforce. Academic librarians are faced with increasing enrollment with reduced staff. Libraries everywhere are tightening their budgets and making due with less.

However, not all of the news was grim. The public library in Troy, Michigan was saved from closing after voters approved a five-year operating millage. Circulation is rising among public libraries in many major U.S. cities, and there is an increase in demand for e-books in libraries. “Guerilla libraries” appeared in camps of the Occupy movement. In Zuccotti Park, the location for the Occupy Wall Street movement, the People’s Library was created. When the park was cleared on November 15th, the People’s Library had 5,500 volumes.

Libraries also continue to shed light on issues such as censorship, copyright, and piracy issues. Banned Books Week stresses the importance of the First Amendment and the dangers of censorship. Libraries are also connecting to customers through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media has helped libraries widen their reach within the communities they serve.

What do you think 2012 will bring? What can libraries do to improve their services when facing stagnant budgets and reduced staff?

Blog post created by Katie Farrell