Some thoughts about libraries ...

Public libraries continue to be battered by a national economy whose recovery from the Great Recession is proving to be sluggish at best. While providing what many state and local governments view as an easy target for budget-slashing, "People depend on libraries now more than ever," said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "Not only do visits and circulation continue to rise, the role of public libraries in providing Internet resources to the public continues to increase as well. . . .

Despite this demonstrated ability of libraries to adjust to meet the growing needs of the public, many libraries across the country face severe budget cuts," Hildreth said, commenting on a study of library use in the decade ending in 2009. "It's important to remember that this data ends with 2009, before even more severe budget crises put so many libraries and library programs at risk."

Today's public libraries are grappling with a "new normal" of flat or decreased funding, paired with increased demand for public library technology resources. (Source: Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, 2010-2011)

Overall, funding for public libraries continues to be suppressed in 2011-2012 budgets, with 5 percent more states reporting decreased state funding for public libraries than in 2010-2011. The cumulative impact of cuts to public library funding at the state and local levels since 2008-2009 has led public libraries to continuous budget-rebalancing and tough choices regarding continuity of services.

(Excerpt from State of American Libraries in 2012 by the American Library Association)

Around the MPL: Last year we had almost 1,500 volunteer hours. When you stop and think about that for our little town it is amazing. Taking it one step further, that equals about $12,000 worth of time at $8 per hour. Of course, we are talking volunteer time; no monies changed hands but it certainly is an interesting perspective!