Sunday, December 21, 2014

Library helps battle boredom, find escape

By JENALEA MYERS, Herald Night News Editor | 11/12/2009

Libraries are an equalizer, Jenny Milliken says.

“Everyone is afforded the opportunity to use library services, so one’s economic status is not part of the equation,” Milliken, director of Williamsburg Community Library, said.

Libraries are an equalizer, Jenny Milliken says.

“Everyone is afforded the opportunity to use library services, so one’s economic status is not part of the equation,” Milliken, director of Williamsburg Community Library, said.

And in tough economic times when people need library computers to work on resumes or want books or movies for cheap or free entertainment, that’s important, she said.

Traffic increase

Many of the county’s libraries report an increase in traffic as more and more people are utilizing computers or newspaper classifieds to search for jobs, file unemployment or work on materials to apply for jobs.

“We have a lot of usage of our computers, and some people have either worked on their resume or applied for jobs at the library,” Delores Dyer, librarian at Pomona Community Library, said.

Becky Dodd, director of Wellsville City Library, would agree.

“When you find yourself unemployed, you can use a public computer to find another job, file unemployment, use e-mail, take that online class, continue education and so much more,” she said. “Adults are visiting with others that are without jobs and sharing resources.”

Circulation increase

More people visiting Ottawa Library has affected the library’s circulation, Rosemary Honn, librarian in the circulation department, said.

“There has been an increase in circulation,” she said. “The interlibrary loan program is a part of that, but I do think the economy has had an impact as well.”

The interlibrary loan program allows patrons to check out materials from other libraries that are part of a consortium.

It allows libraries to offer a wider range of materials for patrons at Williamsburg’s library, Milliken said.

“The number of people visiting the library continues to increase,” she said. “While the economy is a factor in this increase, it is not the sole reason. Many people are utilizing Williamsburg Community Library because they see that the services offered are comparable to and compatible with those found in larger communities.”

Budget cuts

Many of the county’s smaller libraries face difficulties with shrinking budgets, librarians said.

“We have had to hold back on purchasing items due to the questioning as to whether or not the revenue will be there,” Dodd, with Wellsville’s library, said. “The state funds were decreased, and the donations are not quite the same level as in years past.”

And that doesn’t just affect library purchases, she said.

“We had plans to increase our service hours but instead have put that on hold until the economy comes back around,” Dodd said.

When it comes to budget cuts to Ottawa Library, director Robin Flory said the library has been fortunate.

“We didn’t have a lot of cuts, but we also didn’t have any growth,” she said.

What has changed, though, is some of the types of programs Ottawa Library puts on, Lisa Slavin, who oversees adult programming, said.

She said some of the programs — like resume and interview workshops — now are geared toward those struggling in the current economy.

“We know there is a real need for those types of programs,” Slavin said.

An escape

For some people, services libraries provide – like books or movies for cheap or free entertainment — are even more beneficial in tough economic times, librarians said.

“We have seen a lot more people checking out movies,” Connie Weber, director of Richmond Community Library, said. “I have had the kids asking for the library to do another movie night. I have people coming in to ask if I’m getting this movie or that movie.”

Dodd has seen similar activity in Wellsville.

“One patron’s doctor told her to go to the library and get a book for therapy,” she said. “It was free and would be a good place for them to go and ‘get out of the house’ to keep a ‘get up and be somewhere regular schedule’ to make them feel like it was a part of their regular routine.”

And that may lead to other opportunities, Dodd said.

“Chances are they may see people, visit and maybe may network into something else,” she said. “Libraries have provided service for years and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.”

And some of those services do provide an “escape” for people from everyday realities of economic difficult times, Milliken, with Williamsburg’s library, said.

“A lot of the items available at the library will allow a person to ‘escape’ from their current situations for a while,” she said. “The fact that it can be done at no cost is an extra benefit.”

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