07 January 2009

The Library as Knowledge Commons

When the going gets tough, the tough...go to the library:

Fewer people bought books, CD’s, and DVD’s in 2008 than in the year before. The number of moviegoers and concertgoers shrank last year, too, though rising ticket prices in both cases offset declining sales. Theater attendance, overall, is also down.

We usually hear about these declines in isolation. But taken together, they seem to suggest that cultural pursuits across the board are on the decline. Indeed, if nobody seems to be out buying books, movies, and music, what are they doing with their leisure time instead?

Apparently: going to the library. The Boston Globe reports that public libraries around the country are posting double-digit percentage increases in circulation and new library-card application

This highlights the *increased* importance of intellectual commons like libraries during times of financial hardship, when people can't afford to own so much stuff. It also suggests why we need support libraries through thick and thin.

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