Pittsburgh Libraries See Rise In Attendance Due To Struggling Economy
Tough economic times have translated into record setting attendance at all branches of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh.
President of the Carnegie Library, Barbara Mistick, said in 2008, the library set a 17-year record, circulating more than 3 million items.
One out of five Allegheny County residents now has a library card, with one out of two city of Pittsburgh residents having one. Those who are out of work are finding the libraries free services irresistible, officials said.
"It's early learning programs," said Mistick. "It's literacy programs. It's story times, and it's job and career services programs, too."
Mistick said the No. 1 draw is the job and career center, where attendance is up 100 percent. There are the free resume services and Internet access.
Mistick said a lot of people have canceled their at-home high speed Internet and are showing up for the free WiFi at the library.
Despite the surge, support for local libraries is down. Most of their money comes from the state sales tax, and those dollars have been depleted.
"Most of our funding comes from sales tax, so as people are compressing their buying habits, those sales tax numbers go down," said Mistick. "We're seeing a corresponding decrease to the library."