Libraries and librarians can't seem to escape the media spotlight these days - who'da thunk it? It seems like only yesterday the media was chasing after Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and their ilk - now the headline grabbers are found at your local library.
As you know, it's not all good news. Anna Davlantes of Fox Chicago began an expose-styled report on the Chicago Public Library system with the line, "They eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars." Not too difficult to see where's she heading from there. You can also read Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey's well-written response to that story. The crumbling of the state library systems has been analyzed a-plenty in the papers and you've felt the effect with our cancellation of van delivery service. The Des Plaines Public Library has found itself in the local news headlines so often of late that we've added a page of news stories to our Web site: "What's New?" ---> "local news articles about the library."
It isn't all gloom and doom, however. Libraries are also riding a wave of public support and gratitude, often from unexpected sources. The Old Spice guy made what I guess you'd call a public service announcement about the value of libraries. It makes its point while also making you laugh. National Public Radio's "MonkeySee" pop culture blog predicts that libraries might be the "next big pop-culture wave." If you click through to that article, you'll see links to plenty of other videos, blogs and traditional news write-ups extolling the value of the library. I worked the reference desk for two hours last Tuesday and was busy the entire time. Clearly people in this neighborhood believe we have good things to offer.
What do you think? Have inexpensive Internet connections and the Googleization of information made the library less relevant to you? Or are we the next big thing, like cupcakes and "Old Spicey?" Ever wonder how much money the library saves you per visit? Do the math with our Return on Investment calculator. Perhaps we are growing fatigued of the rhetoric about "tough economic times," but this much is true - using the library saves you money. Having a great library in your community gives it "curb appeal," too. Here in Des Plaines, IL, the public library has been a bright spot in town for over one hundred years - a classic and yet, possibly, the hottest trend, just around the corner.