The Wall Street Journal writes on the confluence of the need for information for job seekers, and computer and Wi-Fi availability in libraries: The Journal story runs down the demands being placed on public libraries as those who are unemployed or underemployed check out books, check job listings, and cry on librarians' shoulders.
Oddly, the article doesn't mention that free Wi-Fi means being able to cancel one's broadband subscription if you lost a job or are being paid less--saving from $300 to $1,000 per year depending on the subscription--and if you lost access to a laptop from work, you don't need to buy a new machine (at least immediately).
The article also omits the unfortunate confluence that city and regional budgets are full of red ink, and that libraries often find staff, hours, and new book budgets on the chopping block as one of the ways to reduce costs. It's a shame, because libraries are never needed more than during tough times.
The profession of librarian has morphed from shushing books stamper to information technology/information sciences expert--crossed with social workers. In Seattle, even in the best of economic times, librarians are called upon to deal with legions of homeless people who camp in libraries (often making good use of their resources, too). The Seattle library system has advocated for hygiene centers and more shelters to shift their burden onto appropriate resources.
[link via Muniwireless.com]