Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 6, 2013

GLYNN: Internet drawing visitors to library

Niagara Gazette — People who contend that no one goes to the library any more because they can find everything at home on the Internet should take a second look. 

The computers at the Earl W. Brydges Library, Main and Lockport streets, are in steady demand every day the facility is open. Ironically, it's the lack of access to the Internet at home that drives a number of local residents to the library.

If you're still not convinced, consider this staggering statistic from Library Director Michelle Petrazzoulo: 31,596 residents in Niagara Falls have library cards. The city's population is 50,193, according to the 2010 Census. The New York Library Association reports that library usage is up 11 percent in the Empire State and it is estimated that 52 percent of New Yorkers have library cards.

"That lack of Internet access is certainly predominant in this city," Petrazzoulo said. "A lot of our patrons include those who are dealing with hard economic times and when they have to decide what to do without, one of the first things is the cable or the TV channels". She also noted that they have access to a printer at the library.

On a related note, funding was the focus on "Library Advocacy Day" in Albany Tuesday when state lawmakers were asked to restore funding for libraries. Central New York Library Resources Council Director Debbie Emerson said the proposed state budget is keeping the funding the same as last year, which remains down 20 percent since 2007.

Emerson contends that libraries are doing more now for communities than ever before. She cited the free Internet access, which is vital for anyone in pursuit of a job. "With most jobs now, even at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, they're required to fill out applications online," Emerson said, "They can't do that at home if they don't have Internet access so they're going to the library where they also can ask the professional staff for assistance."

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