Libraries, libraries, libraries




I was on the road last week for a presentation on Peace Corps and Macedonia at the Seminole Heights Library in Tampa and to see family and friends there and near Orlando. I enjoyed every minute of it! My journey continues today as I head to Tallahassee to advocate for libraries on Tuesday, which is State Library Day.

In the past, I attended Library Day almost every year, but I haven’t been there since 2006 when I left for Peace Corps. I am very excited to be returning to Florida’s state capitol to talk with legislators about maintaining state funding for libraries.

I’ll also be seeing old and respected friends and library supporters from all over Florida. I can’t wait. We will be traipsing together through the Senate and House halls visiting elected officials, who hold the purse strings on our State’s budget, asking them to earmark some of the funds for libraries.

My love affair with libraries began decades ago. As a child my first encounter was when the public library book mobile parked on the patched asphalt of our parochial school parking lot and jerked open its pneumatic doors. I can still remember the sound of the doors folding back and my anticipation as I waited to ascend the worn, rubber-matted steps of the bus. The excitement of being able to take anything I wanted off the shelves made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I couldn’t believe such riches could be mine for the asking, and that having them – even for a short period – wouldn’t cost me or my family anything. It seemed too good to be true.   

My love of libraries intensified in college when I spent hours searching orderly card files for psychological abstracts – again thrilled and filled with awe that so much information was mine for the asking. (Nerdy, I know.) My relationship with libraries deepened even more when I spent 11 years of my career publicizing and promoting libraries and their resources. Being head of Public Relations & Partnerships for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System was a dream come true for me.

So today I decided to share some interesting, and I believe, important facts and figures about libraries – especially since National Library Week, April 10-16, 2011, is just a few weeks away. Please pass the information along to anyone you think might enjoy it. A library mentor of mine, Lawrence Webster has often said, if people would use the word “library” in three conversations a day, we would never have to worry about funding again. 

Give it a try. Post, Facebook, Tweet, speak or write something about libraries today, and share one of your favorite library stories or memories with us here.



Here’s information from the American Library Association (ALA) to get you started. (My notes are in black.)


􀂐 59% of adults in the U.S. have public library cards (It’s true!)

􀂐 Americans go to school, public and academic libraries nearly three times more often than they go to the movies. (Another nice surprise.)

􀂐 Reference librarians in the nation’s public and academic libraries answer nearly 5.7 million questions weekly. Standing single file, the line of questioners would span from Long Island, New York, to Juneau, Alaska. (Even in this on-line age, people still rely on libraries for fast, accurate and reliable information and answers.)

􀂐 A 2009 poll conducted for the American Library Association found that 96% respondents agreed that public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed because it provides free access to materials and resources. (Interesting, when you consider how often and how deeply we can disagree on other topics.)


􀂐 There are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S.—a total of 16,604 including branches. (Who knew!)

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

 􀂐 Americans check out an average of more than seven books a year. They spend $33.56 a year for the public library—about the average cost of one hardcover book.

􀂐 Public libraries are the number one point of online access for people without internet connections at home, school or work. (It’s easy to forget that not every American family can afford a computer and Internet access.)

􀂐 98.7% of public libraries provide public access to the Internet.

􀂐 More than 65% of public libraries provide services for job seekers.

Sources: ALA Office for Research & Statistics; ALA Public Information Office. All facts compiled in 2009.  Click here for more of ALA’s “Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries 2010”.

For hundreds of inexpensive but great looking reading-related posters and bookmarks check out, Upstart/Highsmith. The bookmarks make fun handouts for your kids’ or grandkids’ classrooms and the posters work well in classrooms or bedrooms.


WTW Dandelion

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