Fund Public Libraries

Fund Public Libraries

Funding is a significant concern for libraries across the country. Federal and state funding for public libraries has flattened or declined, and the ability to raise funds from local sources, which represent 81% of all library funding, has also become more difficult.   Library levies and referenda are being placed on election ballots less frequently in recent years and passage rates of the library levies that make it to the ballot have steadily declined over the past decade. We also see local politicians declining to increase funding from the general funds for libraries.

Without some action, this funding problem will not self-correct and is likely to worsen. Public library budgets face significant economic strains with increased energy and healthcare costs and declining property values, leading to a reduction in local property taxes, the source of most local library funding. (read more here)

However, libraries remain one of the cornerstones of a modern community. They continue to provide access to new technologies, train entrepreneurs and small business owners to run smarter businesses, ensure young minds continue to grow and learn, and ensure the continuing education of adults to help them advance in their careers. But there are even more reasons to ensure that local libraries are adequately funded.

1. Not Everything is Available on the Internet

Amazing amount of useful information on the web has engendered the false assumption that everything can be found online. But it’s simply not true. The library provides access to content that is typically behind paywalls, only accessible by large corporations with extensive resources, or simply inaccessible with simple Google searches.

2. Digital Libraries are not the Internet

Online library collections are different and typically include materials that have been published via rigorous editorial processes and are riddled with quantitative analysis instead of opinion. Types of materials include books, documents, newspapers, journals, magazines and reports which are digitized then stored and indexed through a limited-access database.

3. The Internet isn’t Free

Numerous academic research papers and journals are virtually inaccessible to someone seeking to pull them off the web for free. Access is restricted to expensive subscription accounts which are typically paid for by college libraries and visiting a college library in person or logging in to the library through your school account is therefore the only way to affordably access necessary archived resources.

4. The Internet Compliments Libraries, but Doesn’t Replace Them

Internet is clearly a great resource to finding information but it’s not a replacement for a library. Well! There are clear advantages of libraries over the internet for research however the benefits of the internet includes “sampling public opinion”, gathering “quick facts” and pooling a wide range of ideas. The point is this: libraries are completely different than the web.

5. School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores

Studies show that students who frequently visit well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher scores and perform better on reading and writing exams.

6. Libraries Aren’t Just Books

Well! Technology is integrating itself into the library system and not bulldozing it. So, Pushing this trend to its logical extreme we could eventually see libraries’ entire stacks relegated to databases and have books only accessible digitally.

7. Mobile Devices are not the End of Books or Libraries

Well! Predictions of the “end of the book” are a predictable response to digitization and other technologies and the crystal ball of some in the pro-paper crowd seems to also reveal a concomitant crumbling of civilization.

8. Library Attendance isn’t Falling It’s Just More Virtual

Now number of schools offering online degrees is constantly on the rise and many of these schools are improving their virtual libraries by the day.

9. Physical Libraries are Adapting to Cultural Change

Knowledge that was once encased in books and compartmentalized by subject area is now being liberally disseminated in an explosion of democracy rendering obsolete the austerity of the lonely and echoing corridors of the Library.

10. Eliminating Libraries would Cut Short an Important Process of Cultural Evolution

Library that we are most familiar with today a public or academic institution that lends out books for free is a product of the democratization of knowledge. Books weren’t always so affordable and private libraries or book clubs were a privilege of the rich. In reality the quality of the web depends on guidance from the library model.” (adapted from Stephen’s Lighthouse)

If you support the funding for public libraries in your area, sign our petition and let politicians know that you believe that libraries need continued funding and support at the local level.

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