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News Release - Study Shows Public Library Use Increased During Recession

March 9, 2011

News Release

New Study Demonstrates That Colorado Public Library Use Increased During The Recession

The Library Research Service, an office of the Colorado State Library, today released “The Impact of the Recession on Public Library Use in Colorado.”

The study examines use of Colorado public libraries (measured by visits, circulation, program attendance and Internet computer use) both prior to and after the onset of the recent recession.

The study found that from 2006 to 2007 (prior to the recession), visits per capita, circulation per capita, program attendance per 1,000 served and Internet computer use per capita remained relatively static or decreased in Colorado public libraries.

In contrast, visits, circulation and program attendance all increased during the recession (from 2007 to 2009) by at least 11 percent for libraries serving large communities (populations of 25,000 or more). Higher use during this period was also seen in resort communities. Visits, circulation, program attendance and Internet computer use all increased by between 6 percent and 28 percent in public libraries serving these communities. Libraries serving small communities (populations under 25,000) were not included in the study because of missing and anomalous data.

Public libraries have been a key resource for Coloradans during both the recession and the post-recession recovery period, providing community gathering space, access to entertainment and educational resources, and information about job hunting, economizing and other topics that are particularly relevant during this time.

Assistant Commissioner Eugene Hainer commented, “This study supports what many people know, but that the media and political leaders rarely acknowledge; libraries – and the staff therein – are essential assets to communities in times of financial stress. Far from being just places for books and children’s stories, libraries are a critical lifeline to state residents from all walks of life.”

The complete report as well as a research brief (“Fast Facts”) are posted on the Library Research Service’s Web site at: http://www.lrs.org/recession.php.

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