Who Needs Libraries?

In addition to the ton of other things I do, I also volunteer at my local library for a kids’ reading enrichment program.

For one hour after school, children from kindergarten to about third grade come for directed reading enrichment activities – and afterward they get to select a book to take home and keep forever. It’s pretty cool.

This regular time I spend assisting the library has me thinking about all of the library closures I read about more and more these days. It distresses me to think such places may begin to vanish.

In addition to providing free book loans to the community, libraries offer much more: computer and Internet access, assistance with filling out various documents, guidance for research, and free courses, groups, and activities for people of all ages (such as the enrichment program where I volunteer).

The ones who will suffer the most from a closed library are the people on tight budgets who need free access to valuable information. The rest of the community will eventually suffer, as well.

Let’s see. Is there anyone in the following cities who might make good use of a public library?

Camden, New Jersey

Seattle, Washington

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Charlotte, North Carolina

Boston, Massachusetts

… there are so many more.

What can be done? Is this an inevitable change that will require communities to somehow adjust? Or is the general public gravely misunderstanding the important role that libraries play in maintaining literacy, both digital and otherwise? What is the future of libraries?

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2 responses to “Who Needs Libraries?

  1. I perpetually live in the bizarre world (the University) where the library is a necessity, a treasure, and a source of intense pride (ours happens to be in the top 20 in the country). It’s a wonderful environment! Likewise, my town has the second best public library in country for its population size…. Maybe the University rubs off on the town — I guess professors demand a massive selection of high quality kids books for their children! I’m very lucky I guess.

    But yes, this is a profoundly unsettling trend…

  2. Joachim, you are lucky, indeed! I agree — that sounds like a wonderful environment. Most likely the uni does rub off on the town, and how nice! If only the same feeling could spread to some other cities, as well.

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