Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"The Library is the Head of the Community"

I've come across two online items this week that really sum up the value of public libraries in the modern world. The first, a quote from Susan Sarandon, comes by way of our friends at New York Public Library. This may be one of the best advertisements for public libraries ever uttered:

That certainly rings true for me. I have worked for EnvisionWare for six and a half years. I'm in contact with public libraries every day of the work week. And yet on most Sundays my wife and I still make time to visit our local public library in Tempe, Arizona. We browse the latest books, read magazines, check out DVDs, and drink cold beverages in the cafe. It's a magical place, and a true community hub.

The second item is is an editorial that ran in the Vancouver Sun on September 6 titled Libraries Improve Literacy of the Public.

The piece states that, "compared to people with high literacy, people with low levels of literacy are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, more likely to earn minimal wages, more likely to require public assistance and more likely to have trouble with the law." As the author of the article points out, literacy now has a broader definition than it did in previous generations. In addition to the ability to read words on the printed page, literacy in the modern age may entail at least a rudimentary understanding of how the internet works. The article concludes with this forceful point:

"It's clear, then, that if you want to give your child — or yourself, for that matter — a leg up, then you ought to ensure they spend some time in their local library. And while getting your children to where you want is easier said than done, the National Literacy Trust's survey found that the most common reason kids don't use the library is that their families don't go."

I don't expect everyone to share my passion for libraries, but I believe that there are still plenty of people out there who don't realize what a wonderful resource the modern library can be. If they could bring themselves to darken the doors of their local branch, they might be pleasantly surprised.

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