|Weekly News Digest
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ALA Releases ‘The State of America’s Libraries’ Report
The American Library Association (ALA; www.ala.org) announced the release of "The State of America’s Libraries" report for 2008. ALA releases the report each year as part of National Library Week, observed this year from April 13–19. According to the report, libraries of all kinds continue to be "engines of learning, literacy, and economic development in communities nationwide." Americans are acting on their conviction that school library media centers are a key element in delivering the kind of education the next generation needs in order to succeed in a global society, and public libraries are redoubling their efforts to serve linguistically isolated communities.
Americans check out more than 2 billion items each year from their public libraries, according to the report. The average user takes out more than seven books a year, but patrons also go to their libraries to borrow DVDs, learn new computer skills, conduct job searches, and participate in the activities of local community organizations. The average bill to the taxpayer for this remarkable range of public services: $31 a year or about the cost of one hardcover book.
Other findings in the "The State of America’s Libraries" report include the following:
• Ebooks continued to emerge as a regular feature of libraries of all types.
• Library supporters won an important victory in 2007 when the Environmental Protection Agency was ordered to reopen many of the libraries it had closed in the past year.
• College and research libraries continue to find innovative new ways to meet the rapidly evolving needs of the academy.
• Libraries and librarians of all stripes continue to stand up for the First Amendment rights of all Americans, responding in public discourse and in court to unconstitutional snooping and aspiring book-banners. The right to read—freely and in private—remains a core value of the profession.
The full text of the report is available at www.ala.org/2008State.
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