Libraries Help Drive Economic Recovery - Investments in libraries pay long-term dividends in having an economically stronger, more socially inclusive community



    OTTAWA, May 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Representatives from the Canadian Library
Association (CLA) today announced the urgent need for further investment in
public libraries in order to build and/or upgrade their infrastructure.
    No matter what the current economic situation is, Canadians know that
they can get information, services and assistance they need from their public
library.
    "In our current economic situation, public libraries have become
increasingly popular places for Canadians to come in and enjoy the library's
free resources," said Ken Roberts, CLA president. "Whether it is surfing
online for fun, borrowing DVDs or brushing up on résumé skills, people are
flocking to libraries in the thousands to take advantage of a place that is
primarily free."
    Across Canada, most cities are reporting large increases in their
services and programs, not to mention items being borrowed by the millions.
For example, in Calgary alone in 2008, borrowing was up by 1.1 million for a
total of 15.4 million - an increase of 7.7% from 2007. Calgary's 17 branch
libraries were the second busiest in the country after Toronto, and sixth
busiest in North America.
    Key 2008 Ottawa statistics include an increase in library visits by 12%,
an increase in usage of library items by almost 23%, and increase in the
number of visits to the library's online resources such as the website and
online reference questions by 14%.
    "This increase in usage is primarily due to the fact that Canadians are
realizing that they can borrow books, DVDs, CDs and video games," added
Roberts. "In addition, if for any reason patrons need to cancel a magazine
subscription or their internet, they can always come into the public library
and enjoy these things for free."
    Not only are public libraries beneficial for entertainment and leisure
purposes, they also provide essential resources to help stimulate Canada's
national economy. Public libraries play an important role in assisting people
with literacy skills, résumé creation, job location and application, and
re-education opportunities.
    Applying for jobs via paper applications and résumés is becoming less
common. Employers now rely more on online job applications and résumés sent by
e-mail. The public libraries can provide help for people unfamiliar with
computers for this process.
    "Many of Canada's busiest public libraries are reporting that their
job-hunting resources are the most sought after service," commented Kelly
Moore, CLA Executive Director. "As an example, at London's public library
website, the 'searching for work' link was used 75,485 times in 2008. It is
the site's most popular link."
    As the library's services and resources continue to rise in demand,
essential programs are in extreme danger of being cut, due to the lack of
federal funding. In addition to needing more library employees to keep up with
the quick-moving pace of library visitors, some public libraries are in need
of the physical space and technological infrastructure upgrades.

    CLA underscored the need for an expanded role for the federal government
in supporting libraries, including:

    
    - Improved and expanded federal investment in broadband and ensuring
      access to broadband via libraries
    - Improved long-term funding for libraries through programs such as the
      Community Access Program (CAP) and infrastructure spending
    - Copyright legislation that controls costs for libraries and ensures
      availability of material for the public
    

    "Further investment in public libraries is urgently needed, as they are
key components of communities' master plans," added Moore. "With more
investment, public libraries will be able to increase access to the physically
disabled, become more energy-efficient, and incorporate the latest information
and communications technology".

    The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques
(CLA) is Canada's largest national and broad-based library association,
representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries,
professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about
enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.




For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview: Alana Fontaine,
CLA Public Affairs, Office: (613) 233-8906, Cell: (613) 299-4017,
cla@impactcanada.com

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Canadian Library Association (CLA)

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