Niagara Gazette

March 6, 2013

GLYNN: Internet drawing visitors to library

Niagara Gazette

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."

When library lobbyists stopped by their offices on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers must have been surprised to hear that the number of people using libraries has escalated in recent years. 

ON THE TUBE: That commercial for the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ont. (featuring a couple breaking up) should be nominated for the worst TV spot of the year. It would have been better to show the jilted guy tossing that chocolate cake — with the icing message "It's Over" —at her.

BON VOYAGE?: Not everyone is excited about an Australian billionaire's plans to build a replica of the Titanic, the luxury ship that sank in the North Atlantic in 1912. Clive Palmer, who made his fortune in mining, said Titanic II, will set sail in 2016 from South Hampton, England, to New York City. One area resident who has studied the doomed ship for years quipped, "If they want historical accuracy, they should stick with 20 lifeboats."

ACROSS THE BORDER: Parks Canada, a federal agency that oversee parks and historic sites, has come under attack for approving large out-door concerts at Niagara-on-the-Lake without informing the town council. "The lack of consultation appalls me," a council member said. Lord Mayor Dave Eke added that concert notice caught the town by surprise. Some residents, who prefer Shaw, aren't excited that French indie giants Phoenix and mashup king Girl Talk will be featured.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.