This week, my local library system announced that the city’s budget will allow for libraries to remain open six days a week. Whew!

One indicator of the current economy has been the massive upswing in library use; people who’ve been laid off are heading to the library for internet and computer access, people aren’t buying books as much, kids need a place to go if their parents’ jobs have changed or their caregiver has had to go to work again.

And, of course, library budgets have been threatened because of the economy.

So when the Brooklyn Public Library asked for donations to help keep the library’s doors opened, I ponied up what I could and crossed my fingers. Where else can I get a steady stream of new books, DVDs and books for my son? Judging by the amount of traffic I see going into my local branch, and by how many people wanted The Reader ahead of me (hurry up, all 327 of you!), I would say the library’s usage is thriving. So I was hoping the membership would also hear the call. And the city’s mayor, not a stupid guy, made sure the library was taken care of in the budget. Again, whew.

The library is a great leveller; people of all ethnicities, age and gender congregate there. And while you might think the one thing they have in common is literacy, that is not always the case; my son and I spent many hours there before he could read.

I know from our books that the library in Regency times offered some of the same services, subscribing to the papers so people didn’t have to pay for an individual subscription, getting the latest ‘horrid novel’ so a young lady needn’t spend her pin money on it.

How about you? How has the economy affected your town or city’s cultural spots? Do you visit the library as often as I seem to? What is your secret library tip (mine is to get cookbooks out of the library first to test-drive the recipes; that way, if you like the book, you can buy, but cookbooks can be super-pricy, and you’re not sure you’ll like until you try)?



PS: The top pic is the main branch of my library, which is just gorgeous.