"Coming to the library is kind of my entertainment and information time," he said.
For Jason Collier of Washington County, the library is helping him perform a more important function. He's using the library's free computer and Internet services to look for a job.
"I lost a part-time job that was helping me pay for night (college) classes," said Collier. "I want a full- or part-time job that better fits my major (business administration), and that also can help pay for my education and my rent."
Brown, Robertson and Collier represent the kinds of patrons that are making area libraries very busy places these days. They are among a growing number of people who appear to be looking to their hometown libraries as both a resource and a refuge during tough economic times.
An increase in area library circulation since fall is at least partly due to large numbers of unemployed people using the library's computers, books and other free resources and services to look for jobs, compose resumes and apply for unemployment benefits, area librarians say.
In addition, other customers who may not be out of work but are looking for ways to cut expenses are checking out books and movies at no charge rather than buying books or going to the movie theater, say librarians.
"Have we been busy as a beehive the last few months?" said Kay Peppard, head librarian at Harvey Helm Memorial Library in Stanford. "Oh, yes."
"In fact, we are busier than we have been in a long time, busier than even before the economy went down back in the fall," she said.
Part of statewide trend
Peppard said what's going at her library reflects a statewide trend.
"Libraries have an Internet site where librarians communicate with each other about various issues and concerns, and from what I have seen on that site, it seems every library has been very, very busy," she said.
"We have seen an overall increase in customers, and most, if not all, of that increase is at least indirectly related to the bad state of the economy."
People have been flocking to the Stanford library to use computer and online Internet services, including preparing and composing resumes, looking for jobs, filling out job applications, applying for unemployment, and filling out home remortgage applications, said Peppard.
"There's not only been a big increase in the use of our computers and our Internet services and resources but also an increase in the amount of faxing that's going on," she said.
Peppard said she and her staff go out of their way to make sure the customers hurt by the economy get the assistance they need.
"You can sense from many of these people the pain they are going through," she said. "Many look depressed. Many look scared to death about the present and the future. They also are looking for help, and we want to do our best to provide it."
Peppard said there has been a significant increase in circulation of books and movies.
Karl Benson, head librarian at the Boyle County Public Library, tells a similar story.
"I would say we are following the same pattern of increased circulation and activity as most libraries everywhere," Benson said.
Comparing January this year with January 2008, Benson said there has been "an overall increase in customers and a significant increase in the circulation of movies and books and in the use of our computer and online services."
"A lot of people are using our computers and Internet services, looking at periodicals, and checking out books and other materials that give job listings, tell how to apply for jobs and show them how to write resumes," he said. "They then use our computers to fill out online applications and compose resumes."
The 31-year veteran head librarian said the increase in circulation is bittersweet for him.
"We are pleased anytime our circulation goes up and the overall traffic picks up," Benson said. "But it is sad that much of the increase is related to the bad economy and how it has impacted people's lives.
"I am just happy that libraries are available to help people cope with the economic situation, whether it's providing free job application services to those out of work or free books and movies to people looking to save some money and others just looking for a little escape from the world and its troubles."