Apparently this fiasco was all part of a larger power play, but a last-minute deal has been brokered to keep Philadelphia’s Free Library open. Meanwhile, libraries all over the country face diminished budgets–a challenge yes, but we trust that all will emerge unscathed from these trying times. This brings to mind Chris Bohjalian’s statement, the other night, that there are still more public libraries in this country than MacDonald’s restaurants, a comforting thought for those who like to have something to read while eating a cheeseburger. This fact, by the way, has apparently been qualified by the Dallas Morning News, along with a number of other interesting points:
Americans go to school, public and academic libraries more than twice as often as they go to the movies.
There are more public libraries (16,220, including branches) than McDonald’s restaurants (13,000) in the U.S.
Reference librarians in the nation’s public and academic libraries answer more than 7 million questions weekly. Standing single file, the line of questioners would stretch from Boston to San Francisco.
Federal spending on libraries annually is 54 cents per person.
Americans spend more than three times as much on salty snacks as they do on public libraries.
Americans check out an average of more than six books a year. They spend $25.25 a year for the public library – less than the average cost of one hardcover book.
Public libraries are the No. 1 point of online access for people without Internet connections at home, school or work.
95 percent of public libraries provide public access to the Internet.
SOURCE: American Library Association; mcdonalds.com