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Editorial: Library is a valuable resource

These are difficult times. With the economy struggling and thousands losing their jobs, people in Farmington and beyond have had to look for ways to cut back.

In times like these, Dakota County's public libraries have become an increasingly important part of life for many. From books to movies to computer labs, the modern library offers plenty for families looking to cut their budgets. And people are taking advantage. According to the county library use countywide was up nearly 9 percent. In Farmington, those numbers are even higher. There were 11 percent more items checked out of the Farmington Library in 2008 than there were in 2007. In recent months the number has been even more dramatic: In both December and January library use was up 31 percent over the same months a year ago.

For some, the library is still mostly a place to check out books. But the modern library is much more than that. The Farmington library has nearly 2,000 DVDs for rent and visitors can check out passes that will get from two to four people free admission to the Minnesota Zoo, museums or other attractions. That can go a long way toward planning a family weekend on a budget.

The library is about more than things you can take with you, too. With computers and Internet connections available the library is becoming a valuable resource for job seekers who want to peruse online employment ads or put together a resume. More and more employers are turning to online application systems, making it all the more important for people to have access to a computer.

The library is doing what it can to reach out to residents. Scheide said the goal is to avoid being Farmington's best-kept secret. Given the level of use the library has seen lately that seems unlikely.

Public libraries have a long history in Farmington, and the modern library has plenty to offer in good times as well as in bad. But these days there are plenty of reasons to be happy it's around.