5 Reasons Libraries Are NOT A Luxury
In good times and bad, your library provides free materials and programming for every citizen in your community.
What pops into your head when you hear the word luxury? Do you think of designer clothes? Private jets or yachts? Does your mind drift to the smaller versions of it in many of our lives: the dinner out, weekend vacation, or a new piece of tech? Does anyone think of the public library? Yet, in our contentious times, the question of the library as a community luxury—no longer needed with the internet—has been raised. Here are five arguments that speak to its necessity in American society.
For All Ages and Stages
Libraries serve whole communities, from the pregnant mother reaching out for childcare information in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and baby name books to seniors needing books delivered via bookmobile, including large print and books for the blind—libraries serve everyone. In good times and bad, your library provides free materials and programming for every citizen in your community.
Good for Business
Entrepreneurship is the backbone of our country, collectively employing more people than corporations. Sadly, fifty percent of all businesses fail within the first three years. Those that succeed take advantage of their libraries. By providing accurate information on demographics and industry trends, owners can complete business plans, stay atop their particular industry and pivot if necessary, or complete business plans and create pitch decks for funding. Libraries offer this help so that their communities can have a thriving business sector.
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The Digital Bridge
Most basic services and tasks have moved online. Unfortunately, universal, high-quality, low-priced broadband internet remains an unachieved dream. Also, during difficult economic times, canceling home internet services is a challenging but necessary reality for many families. Libraries pick up the slack. Every day, patrons walk through the doors to apply for jobs, stay connected to friends and family, and pay bills using one of the only places they can access for free. Even better, if they get stuck, they have help in the form of library staff.
A Trusted Institution
Trust is a complicated emotion, hard to build and easy to lose. Sadly, too many public institutions, including the public library, have seen an erosion in trust in recent years. Still, a significant percentage of people retain their faith in the library. Because of that, libraries can work with other public institutions with their mission, from helping the homeless to providing polling areas for voting. They are also where many turn to in times of need due to natural disasters and times of crisis.
Ever stop by a library on the weekend or after school gets out? If so, odds are you’ll see a wide variety of activities. From gaming to 3D printing and book clubs to knitting circles, the combination of programming has expanded dramatically in the past decade and sits alongside the more traditional activities of doing homework and reading. When families need to stretch a dollar, libraries remain one of the best deals in the public sphere.
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Curated to (Try to) Remain Unbiased
We cannot proceed without acknowledging a simple fact: Bias is inevitable. We all enter this world into a particular culture that determines our world experience. Still, more than any other public institution, the public library does try to create collections of materials and experiences that have something for everyone. Does that mean anyone can walk into a library and find something they disagree with? Yes, but that’s a positive. It means that the library does not limit what you can discover and trusts that you can incorporate and grow from new information.
Libraries are places of fun, learning, exploration, and safety. They have stood the test of time and remain a central player in public life today. Suppose luxury is an excellent state of comfort and extravagant living, given all it does. In that case, libraries can go off the list of frivolous extras.
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