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.