Local First

I spent a few years living in Grand Rapids, MI and working with a bunch of wonderful librarians at Grand Valley State University.  Michigan’s economy has been one of the toughest hit in the recent economic downturn, however Grand Rapids seemed to be booming.  As a non-economist, I am not sure of all the factors causing this, but I am certain that their Local First initiative plays a key role.

The Local First program is plastered all over Grand Rapids.  The idea is simple!  Shop at local and independent sellers and keep money in the local economy.  When you shop local up to 68% of every dollar spent remains in the local economy, however if you shop at a national chain only 43% of the money remains in the economy.

Well, my question is how much should libraries support concepts like this?  As a locally-funded organization, should we try to shop local and keep the money within the economy?  Should we raise awareness of Local First with patrons?  It seems we should be doing both, and leaving yet a another positive mark on the community that the library resides in.

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2 Comments

Filed under information activist, Local First

2 responses to “Local First

  1. I think that the local first ethos makes a lot of sense for libraries; buying office supplies, snacks for programs, going out for lunch, large print jobs/banners/posters, and much more are no-brainers on this regard.

    The crimp in the plan comes where libraries spend a lot of their money: databases and other online services, services that typically aren’t available locally.

    A place where libraries, especially public libraries can improve is in buying from local booksellers. It’s not as conveniant as wholesalers for bulk buying, but at least part of every collection can be supplemented through arrangements with local bookstores.

    All of this starts by librarians going out into the world and learning what’s out there. It’s only tangentially related, but I just learned that there’s a weekly open mic that meets right across the street from my library — taking a walk around the nieghborhood has its advantages.

  2. Oleg,

    Right on, and thanks for the comment! I agree that all purchases may not be possible, but some can, and every little bit helps.

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