Libraries feel recession

RALEIGH "it's a good resource," offered job seeker Betty Royalston-Scott

Like so many Americans out of work, she's tapping into the free resources of the North Regional library in Raleigh several times a week.

"I pay my bills. I do everything on my computer and I don't have a computer, so for the last couple of weeks I've been coming to the library to read my email and go to Craigslist to check for jobs and check my bank statement," she explained.

Many other Wake County residents are doing the same thing. Librarian Robin Hemrick says circulation is already up 6 percent this year and so is computer usage.

"We have 600 computers in the county, and I just looked from January to February and it was a 23 percent increase.

And it's not just the book circulation and computer usage that's up at the libraries, free programs like story time are so popular you have to get a ticket to attend.

"We have 22 programs a week for children and yes they've become so popular we have to give out tickets," said Hemrick.

And while the recession is good for the library business, it's bad for county funding.

"We have an 18 million dollar budget and Wake County came to us and said prepare for a 10 percent budget cut. We hope it won't be that much, so library administration really thought through things and came up with a list of things we could do if we had to," said Hemrick

While the local libraries are preparing for cuts they're also preparing to handle the large number of people now depending on the library as a lifeline.

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