How Libraries Function in Small Communities

Even today, internet access and other vital resources are still out of reach for some people in rural communities, but libraries help bridge the accessibility gap.

Rural towns depend on the resources public libraries provide.

Although just about everyone knows the library's purpose in your standard urban community, not as many are aware of its unique role in small-town rural America. Plenty of the services libraries provide are a given in urban households, but for those in small communities, they can be lifesavers. Let’s explore these services and discover what exactly makes libraries so important to small communities.

Providing Small Communities with Internet Access

Although it can be easy to take internet access for granted, it’s not always readily available in smaller rural communities and, in many cases, could even be considered a rarity. Unfortunately, technology is working its way into our everyday lives faster than many of these smaller communities can adapt, leaving them without a number of essential services and resources. 

However, most libraries provide free access to computers with internet access, which patrons can use for anything from keeping up with long-distance friends and family to paying their bills.


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Shelter for People in Need

There’s something of a housing crisis in rural America, just as there is in the urban America we know. Because of this, many Americans in small, rural communities suddenly find themselves without a roof over their heads and need somewhere to stay safe from the elements. In smaller communities, facilities like homeless shelters may not exist, so in lieu of those, the library is often the one to step up and fill that role.

Rural libraries have been known to open their doors to homeless community members, especially during times of extreme heat or cold. Free access to this shelter gives many less fortunate people the opportunity to get back on their feet.

Resources for Homeschooling Families

In recent years, a considerable portion of homeschooling has moved into the online space. While this makes it far more convenient and accessible for people in high-income urban areas, it has quite the opposite effect on countless families living in small rural communities. As mentioned, many of these communities suffer from digital inequity and cannot access critical homeschooling resources. 

Libraries, however, exist to preserve and provide access to knowledge on countless topics, making them one of the best places for rural homeschool families to put together a curriculum. From textbooks to a wealth of online resources and databases, the library ensures that homeschooled children can receive a robust education regardless of their location, income, or status.


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Teaching Life Skills

Of course, learning isn’t just something that stops once you’ve graduated from school; it’s a lifelong endeavor. Libraries also provide educational services for adults in small communities, including adult education classes that teach important life skills.

Unfortunately, many of the skills we expect people to acquire as children slip through the cracks, so when those who didn’t develop these skills become adults, they feel disoriented and unsure of what to do. Adult education classes can fill them in on these details, and the countless books available can help them further their knowledge independently.

In this sense, libraries serve as a sort of equalizer, ensuring that it’s never too late for a fresh start and that anyone can work toward success no matter where they happen to be now.

Providing Community Members with Jobs

Libraries don’t run on their own, though! They need dedicated and hardworking employees to keep the lights on, the shelves stocked, and the patrons well-informed. This means that simply by being there, libraries create job opportunities for community members to pursue.

Whether the library is where they find their passion or it simply serves as a holdover for something greater, these jobs make all the difference to the members of small communities.

Looking for more info on how libraries help the community as a whole? Feel free to visit us at EveryLibrary today!



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