In Tough Economic Times, Book Lovers Borrow

DENVER -- With the economy slumping, it is time to break out the card.

The library card, that is.

Denver Public Libraries are seeing a boom in customers and circulation -- even as the economy goes bust, Denver television news station KMGH reported.

The Byers Branch, near Seventh Avenue and Sante Fe Drive, had a 37 percent increase in circulation this October compared to last, partly because the branch has increased its hours, but it is a trend Denver Public Libraries are seeing across the library system.

When you're looking for ways to save, Denver resident Sara McMillan said, you can't beat free.

She has been checking out a long forgotten resource: the library.

"I used to go to the bookstore a lot more. I'm not doing that so much, now," said McMillan. "I'm coming here. And you know the thing that's cool about it? It's fun. A reawakening of 'Why didnít I do this more often?'"

Denver Public Libraries spokeswoman Celeste Jackson said when times are tough, often it's back to basics.

"We have seen an increase in customer traffic. Customer borrowing habits are up," she said. "People return to what is comfortable, what is economical. They return to the library because we have so much to offer."

Raymond Carroll comes to the Central Library almost every day to get online.

"I just know to come at noon, and I can get on a computer real quick," he said. "I just can't put the money out for a new computer right now."

More and more people are using the library computers for job searches now, said Jackson, and the children's section is not only a place to unwind, it's a way to save money.

Missy Chick was checking out a pile of books and materials for her 20-month-old son, Declan.

"If we can check out books and movies that Declan likes, we don't have to go out and buy them," she said.

Some branches, particularly family branches and language and learning branches, have seen larger increases in customers and circulation. That's where weekend activities are planned and where there is a focus on Spanish-language materials.