Support of local libraries in good economic times is a no brainer. Everyone likes the library, it’s just a friendly place to visit. But it has become more and more obvious as our economy has slowed to a crawl that unless we are careful, the local public library may be one of the victims. Even if you are not politically active, perhaps the idea that your local library could be closing might get you up and out to see what can be done to stop it. If you haven’t really thought about it, maybe now is the time consider why you should support your local library.
The most obvious reason why citizens should support their local public library is obvious. Libraries are the treasury of literacy. Libraries hold books for all ages and all interests. With today’s technology not only are all the books in your library accessible but with the use of a network library card so are books scattered across your region. Closing the library means closing off access to all of those books. Of course you can go to the book store and buy books but certainly not the vast store that is at your command in your library. Supporting your local public library is supporting your right to be informed.
The offerings at libraries of course today swell way beyond the bookshelves. Even the small library in my town of less than 30 thousand has local, state and nationally known newspapers, movies, books on tape, magazines and offers free access to a half dozen computers. While many households have their own computers, many still do not. The library also provides free access to the kinds of software that not everyone can afford. Refusing to support your local library in its efforts to modernize or renovate means shutting down media access for many members of the community.
For children going to the library for a story hour or to pick out a few picture books is their first introduction to the world of knowledge and helps get them ready to move on to nursery school and kindergarten. The children’s library is the star of many local public libraries offering young people a chance to feel comfortable with the world of books and resources. It is an educational tool like no other. As much as children remember their early years in school most also recall those wonderful days of selecting books at the local public library. Investing in your local public library is like investing in yourself and your children.
Besides all its literary resources, in many locations the public library is also a central meeting place. Its various meeting rooms offer space for book clubs, civic organizations, mini conferences and small concerts. In this way the local library is a resource available even to those who don’t especially like to read. It is a place to gather as a community .
Finally, like the town hall, your high school or a senior center, the local public library is a symbol that tells those who pass by something about your town or city. A library that is well supported, renovated and expanded upon is one that tells volumes about what the surrounding community values. In so doing the library is a silent ambassador reaching out to potential residents encouraging them to consider this a good place to live and raise a family.
So while it may be hard to squeeze out those few extra dollars for whatever project may be needed at your local library think twice before turning away. With all the public library has to offer you and your community it should be on the very bottom of the “scuttle now” list and at the top of the “keep for sure” list.