Libraries a Cheap Refuge, But Top Target for Budget Cuts

Popular books see huge waiting lists, while unemployed line up to use computers
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2009 2:40 PM CST
A mother and son at a public library.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Whether you’re looking for a job, or just a cheap respite from the horrors of the economy, the public library has become the place to be, the Wall Street Journal reports. But even as attendance swells, the same financial crisis that brings patrons has left many branches cash-poor. One North Carolina library has seen its carpeting deteriorate from a 25% jump in borrowers, but can’t afford to replace it.

Free internet access at many libraries is a draw for job seekers, as are books on employment and community seminars. And, as always, libraries can be a place for dreaming. “We just want to go to Hawaii,” an applicant for a library card said. “We don’t have a computer, so we’ll start coming here to find a job there.”