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During the year's brighter beginnings, New York Public Library announced a five-year, $1-billion expansion March 11 with the goal of doubling its number of users. It was a savvy move, since circulation statistics have soared nationwide in direct proportion to the falling economy. In August, the mayor of Washington, D.C., quickly found $2 million to reverse a shortfall that would have forced cuts in library hours.
But threats to library funding also regularly reared their ugly heads, as they do every year. In January New Jersey librarians fought tax-cap legislation that threatened to limit property tax increases to 4%. By March, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, was announcing that the city would close five branches (a decision that was evenly everturned). BY April, Mesa, Arizona, was on the verge of eliminating all 87 of its school library media specialists (it's underway), and in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the mayor threatened to permanently shutter the city's branches (they got a reprieve in August).
But it wasn't until September that economic instability hit hard, and American Libraries reported that the quest for library funding was likely to be cluttered and frenzied for the foreseeable future. Finances became the top library story of the year, just as it became the top story for the rest of the nation.
Funding aside, the headlines that the hit hardest in these editorial offices were related to many of the profession's perennial themes: censorship, privacy, advocacy and public awareness, and access to information in good times and in bad.
1 SEEKING SHELTER FROM THE GATHERING STORM