The library Oscars

Jill Moorhead of Columbus, Ohio, directs my attention to Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR) for 2004, an assessment of states’ public libraries, based in part on usage.

Ohio’s libraries take the grand prize, as they did last year. The Columbus Metropolitan Library is the most-used library in a metropolitan area with a population exceeding 500,000. According to Ms. Moorhead, Ohio’s libraries are not only well-used; they’re also well-supported, receiving more funding than those in any other state. (Imagine that: maintaining libraries and their collections means more people want to use them.)

Many states have drastically cut funding in the last few years. (Don’t get me started on the dire state budget situation and the Bush administration’s role in it.) New York City’s library budgets have been slashed so much that new book purchases are down by 30%, hours are significantly reduced, and the city public library system keeps starting emergency campaigns to raise funds in the private sector and online.

Thomas J. Hennen, Jr., the author of the HAPLR study, observes: “There is a lag between budget cuts and the decline in library usage that we are just beginning to see.”

Prior, related posts and other paraphernalia:

  • In August, in Northern Ireland, libraries’ new book purchases were halted until further notice
  • Barnes & Noble reaps profits from book sales to U.S. public library patrons
  • Libraries have dropped many literary magazines from their collections
  • Public libraries are assigning overdue library book collections to debt collection agencies

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