The job losses and pay cuts experienced by many people throughout the country have brought on new roles for librarians. Libraries are no longer just a place to check out books, music, and videos for free. They are a place for the unemployed to go seeking comfort and help during hard times.
Without as much money to spend on leisure, more and more people are turning to the libraries’ free resources and entertainment. Many libraries are seeing as much as 10 to 30 percent increases in patronage, as well as double digit increases in DVD, CD, and audio book circulation. This means that a larger media selection is needed, as well as durable, replacement packaging.
Libraries are serving a whole new crowd of users. There have been 40 million visits to New York libraries over the past year, which is the largest amount ever over 12 months. With the unemployment rate up to 8.5% the highest since November 1983 these people are looking to libraries for job-seeking help.
Many libraries are now offering job-search desks, help writing résumés, and workshops to bring hope to the jobless. Librarians are being trained to help with these specific needs, as well as receive counseling from therapists. They are learning how to deal with the stress of dealing with sometimes very emotional job-seekers. At times, depressed and discouraged people may even try to talk to librarians for emotional support. This can be difficult for librarians. In addition, there has been an increase of theft and violence at libraries has brought the need for added security and support.
More than ever before, people are turning to libraries for entertainment, job-help, and emotional support. People are coming in to write a résumé that may have never used a computer before, or may not know how to read or write in English. Librarians need to be trained, in order to perform these tasks for the new roles in which they are placed. With the added help and support, frustrated job-seekers can be given hope for new possibilities.