Source: Barbara Mantel, CQ Researcher, Volume 21, Issue 27, July 29, 2011
As economic pressures wrought by the recession continue to squeeze millions of Americans, they are turning increasingly to the nation’s libraries for help. Many are taking advantage of computer workstations to hunt for jobs and polish their résumés. Those who can no longer afford to buy DVDs or books are now borrowing them from the library. Yet state and local governments are slashing library budgets, and many public library systems have been forced to reduce hours and staff and close branches. Academic and school libraries also are struggling with budget cuts. Meanwhile, the role of reference librarians is evolving to meet emerging demands spurred by digital publishing. The myriad challenges facing libraries raise questions about their future: Should the physical library shrink as books, journals and other materials increasingly become available in digital form? What role will libraries play if e-books come to dominate the reading experience? And should public libraries be privatized in an effort to save money?