Library Use is Booming Because of Recession

books library shelf photo

Photo: Flickr
The Good Ol' Book is Back in Vogue
When green advocates talk about product service systems (PSS), many might be left scratching their heads (if that's you, check out the linked Wikipedia page). Yet we're all familiar with public libraries, a great example, and when times are harder economically, people increasingly turn to these alternatives to owning stuff. Read on for more.
books library shelf photo

Photo: Flickr

From the Boston Globe:

with the economy sputtering, unemployment rising, and no relief in sight, Massachusetts libraries, long the victim of budget cuts, are busier than ever before, said Robert Maier, director of the state Board of Library Commissioners.

Attendance is surging. Check-out rates are soaring. At some libraries, circulation - the number of items checked out in a given month - is up as much as 33 percent since last summer. And for the unemployed, libraries have become something like an office, with computers, Internet access, and even classes that teach how to write a r??sum?? and peddle it online. In a tough time, it seems, people are returning to a place where whispering trumps shouting and no credit card is necessary. At the library, just about everything is free.

You Don't Always Have to Buy Something
Indeed, when you take a "goal approach" to your needs, you realize that there's more than one way to fulfill them. If your goal is to read, to go online, to watch a movie, or learn something new, you could always spend money at a bookstore, etc. But it's always good to see if there are cheaper & greener alternatives. This might seem obvious, but very few people think that way...

How many times do you read the books you buy on average? I know that I my personally average probably isn't much higher than 1 (though most of what I buy isn't available at our local public library). Some books in libraries can be read 100s of times over decades, making them a much better use of the energy and materials that went into making them.

The point here is not to guilt anyone into buying fewer books. By all means, read more books, even if you have to buy them. In the long list of environmental problems, people reading too many books is very near the bottom; in fact, if people read more (quality) books, the world would probably be a better place.

Yet I want to encourage you to think about your needs from a "goal oriented" perspective in general, not just when it comes to reading. You need to drill a hole in your wall once every few months/years? Do you really need to buy an electric drill? Could you borrow one from someone? Public libraries are just one example among many (ZipCar and bike-sharing programs are other great ones).

Via Boston Globe

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