According to Wikipedia, and contrary to popular belief, library usage is on the increase in spite of, or perhaps because of, our kindles and our nooks and our laptops. Unfortunately many local governments still target libraries first when they need to make budget cuts. The services a library provides can seem intangible to the public. They don’t rescue people from burning buildings or fill potholes or keep crime off our streets.
Unfortunately many libraries seem to be lax in promoting themselves, and that’s a tragedy because they provide a lot of amenities. Everyone knows that libraries are places where you can check out books and DVDs and use the internet, but there’s more to them than that. Many libraries offer research assistance, tax preparation assistance, homework assistance and a wide variety of classes from adult literacy to yoga to cooking to computer classes. They often host community meetings and conferences and are voting sites as well.
More and more libraries are also housing used book stores and cafes. They are great sources of genealogical information as well as archives of local history. They often provide programs to spark an interest in reading in children as well as book clubs for adults. Many coordinate summer reading programs.
Not satisfied with your library’s collection? Most of them participate in an interlibrary loan system and can get the material you desire that way, and they are also usually quite open to suggestions as to purchases they should make. People often don’t take advantages of this.
I recently convinced my library to buy the book “Crazy Town” by Robyn Doolittle, about Rob Ford, the crack smoking mayor of Toronto. I was very excited when it came in, not only because I then got to read it, but also because everyone who checks out that book from now on will have been influenced by my suggestion, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
It’s hard to put a price tag on information and knowledge and entertainment, but if we don’t support our libraries and actively participate in their programs, we will feel their loss acutely. So go to your library today, and bring a child or a friend with you. While you are there, thank the librarians for their service, as their praises go mostly unsung.
[Image credit: librarything.com]