In Downturns, The Library Is A ‘Soft Place’

Another story on the Boston Public Library.

Here’s an interview with Library President Amy Ryan, who wrote her master’s thesis on the role of libraries during economic downturns. As she tells reporter WBUR reporter Deborah Becker, she’s now gaining firsthand experience.

DB: What happened in the 70s and in the Depression?

AR: From 1929 to to 1933, there was a 37 percent increase in the number of books borrowed. And when I look at Boston Public Library statistics, it’s interesting because there’s been a 30 percent increase in people getting new library cards just since last July. So, that’s 71,000 people getting new library cards. And along with that, a statistic that I think is very important is that 7,000 of those people were teenagers.

DB:What makes this particular economic downturn different, do you know?

AR: Well, I think the severity of it. I think it’s an unprecedented downturn. I think people are anxious. More from NPR.