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(Amy Sinclair, NECN: South Portland, Maine) - There's not much down time for the library staff in South Portland, Maine these days. Their programming is more popular than ever. And circulation at this little branch is up 20 percent from the same time last year. The reason? Kevin: "It's really the place people most need when times are tough." Mark Bryant rediscovered his local branch after dropping both his cable and internet subscriptions six months ago. now he uses the library's internet service for free. Mark: "Most of em..the South Portland branches give you an hour which is plenty of time to do my banking and check email." He's learned what librarians have been quietly telling people for years. They're a darn good value. Kevin "the average south portland taxpayer pays 30 dollars a year for services so when you consider the cost of materials you're getting your money's worth so you're getting your money's worth even if you use the library even once." Sinclair: "If you're spending 50 bucks a month for internet, another 10 for movie rentals, and 20 for books and CDs that adds up to 960 dollars a year..all of which would be free with a library card." Doreen Gibson just renewed hers and .she's going home with a fistful of free movies. "I'm not spending a fortune at video stores." But the same economic conditions that bring more people through their doors, may put local libraries in jeopardy. Kevin: "When push comes to shove it's hard to go up against police and fire departments at budget time" Librarians hope their town and city governments see what all these new card holders see: that the library isn't just a place to check out books, it's an invaluable resource for families seeking refuge from a harsh economy.