Monday, September 29, 2014

A Note The Library Deniers: Libraries Do Have something For Everyone

This isn't another rant about why libraries matter or why closing down a library in any community is a bad idea.  .  It's not about that at all.  Rather this is a post for the library deniers. Who are these deniers?  The neighbors, friends or family members who simply deny that the library has anything to offer to them or anyone else.   This is precisely why a visit to the library once a year could change the harshest views of the library.     It may be surprising to some of the library deniers to  know, it's not just about books. There's new technology.  There are plenty of programs for every age.  In other words, it's not just books.  It's about people.

Library have changed drastically in the past decade.  No longer are books the only items to be borrowed.  The variety of  items to be check out range from fishing poles to telescopes and everything in between.  Why is it then that the stereotypical view of the library still exists? It could be that the marketing (or branding) of the library has not been effective.     After all, who wants to hear people complain about how no one respects them or their libraries?   No one does.  What is more effective is to "show" the community how the library adds value to the community.   This is an re-introduction to the library.   It is meant in the spirit of "hello again" to those who have not been in a library for quiet some time.  Consider this a preface to a three part series which will demonstrate the community building that libraries across the country do everyday.  Whether it's good times or bad, libraries are continuing to reach out to the community.

It was Lady Bird Johnson who once stated, "Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library".  She was correct in that observation.  The library is open for all residents, rich or poor, young or old.    Quite frankly, it is also the institution that has something for everyone.   Even those who claim they don't need a library.  Chances are, they may not need one today but tomorrow may just be the day that the library meets a need of  a library denier.   There are a few questions that every library denier should ask themselves.  First, how do you know the library has nothing that you need?  Two,  what library services would you like the local library to provide? Finally, when was the last time you were in a library?   Answer the questions truthfully and it may reveal that everything you know about the library may be false.  

First it's important to lay the foundation of what the mission of a public library is and has been for years.  Public libraries, large or small, are established for the purpose of lifelong learning for every member of the community From newborns to senior citizens to everyone in between.  It is the one place that the community turns to access information.  This may explain why there are more libraries than there are McDonalds in America.    All though most fast food places, including McDonald,  provide free wifi access customers must use their own laptop, smart phone or other related devices to gain access.  Libraries only require that a wifi user have a free library card to gain access to not only the internet but also to databases and  computer software programs such as Microsoft Office.

The foundation of lifelong learning creates a positive environment for every person to learn something new everyday.  That is , if they choose to do so.  In the next three blog posts,  different library services will be examined and shown how they help shape and build the community around them. The goal here is to take away any excuses that library deniers have in visiting and using the services that are there for the taking.  It is also a chance to showcase how libraries are making a dramatic impact on the community.  Positive impacts that can be seen and measured in tangible ways. Is the interest peeked just a little?


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