Local Libraries Make a Big Difference

Did you know Americans go to school, public and academic libraries nearly three times more often than they go to the movies? Check out these other interesting statistics:

• Reference librarians in our nation’s public and academic libraries answer nearly 5.7 million questions a week.

• There are more public libraries than McDonalds’s in the United States.

• Americans check out an average of more than seven books a year. They spend $34.95 a year for the public library — about the average cost of one hardcover book.

• More than 65 percent of public libraries provide services for job seekers.

• Nearly 99 percent of public libraries provide public access to the Internet.

• Americans spend more than twice as much on candy as they do on public libraries.

These facts are from the American Library Association Office for Research and Statistics, ALA Public Information Office.

Now, here are a few numbers from the Alamance County Public Libraries from last year:

• More than 855,100 books, movies, magazines and music CDs were checked out.

• Some 599,205 people visited our libraries. That’s enough people to fill the Charlotte Motor Speedway more than 3.5 times.

• Almost 140,000 people accessed the Internet in our libraries.

• More than 58,000 reference questions were answered.

• Some 32,792 people attended 1,459 programs at our libraries.

Alamance County Public Libraries did all this with a shrinking budget. Can you imagine inviting 599,205 people to your house for cookies and not having enough to go around?

Each year, the price of books and movies goes up, and the amount of money in our budget goes down. We struggle to keep up with the demand for existing services and the call for new services.

Each year, we look at our budget to see how we can continue to offer our services with less money. The money allocated to purchase books, movies and CDs has dropped by more than 50 percent in the past two years. Many of you are experiencing longer waits as you wait to get your hands on the latest best-seller. Many of you have been asking for eBooks. Yet we have less money to spend on materials for your benefit.

How can you help? Alamance County Public Libraries offers an Adopt-A-Book program, and you can give any amount of money to our libraries through this program.

A minimum contribution of $20 allows us to include a plate in a book that honors someone you’ve designated. Through your adoption of a book, you are providing a gift to your entire county. It’s a terrific way to recognize someone important to you or an important occasion in someone’s life.

When I got married, my staff donated money to purchase 17 books in honor of myself and my husband. We will always be able to go to the library and see our names in these books.

Adopt-A-Book envelopes are available in all Alamance County Public Libraries. If you have any questions about this program, please call your local branch.

We hope that you will adopt a book and discover the joy of sending a lasting tribute to someone you love.

July 29, 2012