One of the nation’s biggest and busiest libraries is the $144-million Harold Washington Library in the Loop. It boasts a staggering 5,000 visitors a day!.
So we decided to check it out. We used an undercover camera to see how many people used the library and what were they doing.
In an hour, we counted about 300 visitors. Most of them were using the free internet. The bookshelves? Not so much.
An hour. This is what they saw in an hour. Wondering how much they looked around. Here are some selected comments.
I am not sure what parallel universe Ms. Davlantes was living in when she aired that report yesterday. She spent over one hour in the Bucktown-Wicker Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library, which was busy with readers checking out and returning books, computer users, visitors, students, parents reading with their children, and teens volunteering for the Summer Reading Program. Are libraries relevant? Of course they are, especially in these dire economic times when people don’t have disposable income, are out of a job, or are trying to improve their lives. Libraries provide important information and referral services to other community agencies and provide a setting for forever learning. Chicago Public Library branches circulate thousands of books each month and welcome hundreds of patrons per day, often (as a result of the current economic climate) with the same number of workers you might find on a garbage truck. Those few staff members will often work extra hours, purchase supplies out of their own pockets, and reach out to underserved areas of their communities on their own time. Even with short staffing and more and more people coming through our doors, you will find staff excited and committed in the future of libraries. We know times are changing, but we’re not stagnant. As methods for information retrieval and even pleasure reading change, so do we. Check it out at your local library!
You’re complaining about 2.5% of your taxes going to something that provides service nearly every day of the year – with many open 12 hours a day – and gives you access to a vast wealth of information you’d have to pay serious cash for as an individual (e.g., databases such as ValueLine, Morningstar, Lexis Nexis, etc.)? What about the internet and other computer programs that provide access for the many (more than you’d think) who cannot afford their own computer or internet service? What about the immensely popular programs for children and adults that encourage literacy and continuing cultural education? Not to mention access to thousands of books, audiobooks, films, music, e-books and e-audiobooks that you would otherwise have to spend thousands of dollars to get?
At 2.5%, libraries are a bargain, Anna. Please do some real research on this subject.
There are more. There was one really good one about Librarians having shot themselves in the foot. People are are passionate about the library and what it offers. I just hope that passion isn’t showing too late.