SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The demise of the public library has apparently been overrated. A new poll revealed some interesting numbers, and in a strange twist, the internet may have actually helped the popularity of the public library.
The library may be cool again, or so some numbers would indicate. A new Gallop Poll has visited the library as the most common cultural activity among Americans, even more than going to the movies. The numbers reflect that, locally, 1.1 million people entered the doors at one of the 16 locations in Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties.
“I thought it was great. It really reminded people that libraries still exist, that the internet has not killed them, that there are many reasons why people go to the library today from storytimes to programs on yoga. All kinds of reasons as well as digital and finding a job, help with school work, all kinds of things,” said David Singleton, Live Oak Libraries Executive Director.
Here are a few local numbers:
- Twenty-percent more people came to various programs, and computer sessions were also up by 20-percent.
- 2018: 103,252
- 2019: 124,677 (up 20%)
- 2018: 451,630
- 2019: 559,149 (up 20%}
Part of the reason is the library has changed over the years and it’s not just what’s on the shelves. There are children’s programs, yoga, and they also help people with their computer skills and try to begin with everyone at their own personal comfort level.
“We meet people where they are. So, we try to figure out where they are with their skills, start with basic things like a mouse, so, we help people with absolutely no experience with computers, get on and get an email address and apply for a job. You have to have an email address to apply for a job,” said Singleton.
Singleton also says they encourage people to ask questions they might not ask otherwise. It’s all part of the newer library that people are returning to.
“I think it’s hopefully a reminder to people that libraries are still strong, and they may be different than they were in the past, but they’re still here and they’re going to be here for the long term,” Singleton said.