San Francisco Library's Usage, Circulation Skyrocketing -- But This Is Not a Good Thing

Yeah, we thought it was Zach Galifianakis too. It's Joaquin Phoenix -- and be quiet or he'll eat you.
You've got to salute someone who finds a way to succeed in down times. The man who invented and marketed the bindle -- he must have cleaned up during the Great Depression.

Along those lines, the San Francisco Public Library this week happily crowed that it is serving 30 percent more people than it did at this time last year and checking out 15 percent more materials. Now we're big fans of the library -- we even read the newsletter -- but bringing up "the appeal of our newly opened branches" as a rationale for this boom doesn't cut it. The barrage of people at the library is a surefire sign that more and more San Franciscans don't have anywhere else to go. It's not coincidental that the number of library users has surged in the same year that the city's unemployment rate jumped from 5.4 to 9.8 percent.

"Oh, lots!" answered a librarian at the Main Branch when queried how many of the folks hanging about the premises were newly unemployed. "We've got people coming in to do their resumes. I work on the public desk and the building is full." In other words, the usual library daytime clientele of homeless folks has diversified -- it's now homeless people and people worried about becoming homeless.

Library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers quickly conceded that out-of-work folks represent the bulk of the SFPL's new clientele. "The library has always been a place to hang out when you've got nowhere else to go," she noted. 

Quick hikes through several branches prove she's right. Even during the day, several small branch libraries were packed; a number of men and women filled out resumes or job applications online or just took advantage of the free WiFi.

If nothing else, hopefully this will lead to some job safety -- among librarians.

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